BOWLING, ROY HOWARD "HAP" Remains Returned 18 March 1977 Name: Roy Howard "Hap" Bowling Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 163, USS ORISKANY (CVA 34) Date of Birth: 16 December 1929 (Cuba NM) Home City of Record: San Bernardino CA Date of Loss: 17 November 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205000N 1062700E (XJ509042) Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Refno: 0194 Other Personnel in Incident: Jesse Taylor Jr. (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SRV RET REMS TO PCOM 770318 SYNOPSIS: The USS ORISKANY was a World War II-era carrier on duty in Vietnam as early as 1964. The ORISKANY at one time carried the RF8A (number 144608) flown by Maj. John H. Glenn, the famous Marine astronaut (and later Senator) flew in his 1957 transcontinental flight. In October, 1966 the ORISKANY endured a tragic fire which killed 44 men onboard, but was soon back on station. In 1972, the ORISKANY had an at-sea accident which resulted in the loss of one of its aircraft elevators, and later lost a screw that put the carrier into drydock in Yokosuka, Japan for major repairs, thus delaying its involvement until the late months of the war. There were many strikes in the "Iron Triangle" area of Vietnam - Hanoi, Haiphong and Thanh Hoa - in the early weeks of ROLLING THUNDER operations in 1965. The Air Wing 16 commander, CDR Harry T. Jenkins, Jr. had been captured four days when when the Saints of Attack Squadron 163 launched on a strike on the Hai Duong Bridge halfway between Hanoi and Haiphong in North Vietnam on November 17, 1965. On that day, a number of aircraft launched from the ORISKANY inlcuding LCDR Roy H. "Hap" Bowling, the squadron's operations officer and the pilot of an A4E Skyhawk light attack aircraft. LTCDR Bowling was flying a high speed, low-level retirement after attacking the target near the city of Hai Duong, Hai Hung Province, North Vietnam, when his wingman, flying immediately behind him, observed the starboard horizontal stabilizer fly off the aircraft, having been hit by enemy fire. The aircraft then rolled to the right and flew into the ground. A third pilot in the flight momentarily observed a deployed parachute at an altitude of about 100 feet. A fourth pilot in the flight flying past the parachute a few seconds later stated he saw the pilot hanging in the parachute appeared limp, and was not wearing his helmet. About a minute later, two airborne pilots observed a collapsed parachute on the ground in the vicinity of a well-populated area. One pilot saw what he described as "an inert form" under the collapsed parachute. The pilot stated that within three minutes time, the parachute had disappeared. Although search and rescue efforts in Vietnam were the best history had seen, only one out of six Americans shot down in the Iron Triangle region who were alive on the ground were rescued. The area was heavily populated, and villagers were eager to seize "air pirates" who came their way. It was also common for entire aircraft to be carried away, piece by piece, in an amazingly short period of time to reappear as parts of huts, souvenirs, or melted into a variety of objects. Two other officers from VA 163, Eric Shade and Jesse Taylor, Jr., went in to reconnoiter Bowling's position to see if there was a chance he could be extracted by helicopter. Both Shade's and Taylor's A1H aircraft were hit by enemy fire. Shade luckily made it out safely. Taylor's aircraft crashed. It was deemed that he was killed in the crash. Intense enemy anti-aircraft fire in the area precluded a prolonged search effort and the search was terminated within 20 minutes of the initial incident. Bowling was not declared dead, however, but Prisoner of War. He was maintained in that status until the war ended. When 591 Americans were released from Vietnamese prisoner of war camps in 1973, Bowling and Taylor were not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of the two naval officers. Then in 1975, the Vietnamese, in a gesture of "good will" presented the remains of Jesse Taylor Jr. to the U.S. The U.S. gratefully accepted the "gift" of remains which should have been returned years before. Then on March 18, 1977, the remains of Hap Bowling were given to a U.S. presidentially-appointed commission visiting Hanoi. Roy Bowling's remains were accepted without question. A Vietnamese defector stated in Congressional testimony that Vietnam stockpiles hundreds of sets of American remains. Congress believed him. He also testified that Vietnam holds live American prisoners, that he had seen them. Congress says he is lying, although nearly 10,000 reports help substantiate that Americans are being held alive. The U.S. and Vietnamese "progress" at a snail's pace, while totally ignoring the tremendous weight of evidence that their priority should be those Americans still alive as captives. Meanwhile, thousands of lives are spent in the most tortured state imaginable - unable to grieve, unable to rejoice. They wait. Roy H. Bowling was promoted to the rank of Captain during the period he was maintained Prisoner of War.