DERRICKSON, THOMAS GARDNER II Name: Thomas Gardner Derrickson II Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay ABSV Date of Birth: 10 March 1936 Home City of Record: Los Altos CA Date of Loss: 12 October 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 171600N 1064100E (XE795087) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Refno: 0859 Other Personnel in Incident: John K. Hardy, Jr. (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 April 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: SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around. Capt. Thomas G. Derrickson II and 1Lt. John K. Hardy Jr. comprised the crew of an F4C Phantom jet assigned an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam on October 12, 1967. Derrickson and Hardy were in the lead aircraft in a flight of two. Over Quang Binh Province, they sighted ground targets and radioed to their wingman that they were "rolling in." Shortly thereafter, the wingman saw a flash of yellow light followed by a fire and a cloud of black smoke. Attempts to contact Derrickson and Hardy were unsuccessful. Derrickson had graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959, so was a seasoned pilot. Hardy, who had begun training after graduation from the University of Southern California, was a less experienced pilot, but both were trained in the Phantom. According to the Hardy family, many efforts were made to obtain information concerning what happened to Hardy and Derrickson that day with no success. It is known that their last known location was about 15 miles south of the city of Dong Hoi, some 25 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone in North Vietnam. Anti-aircraft resistance was heavy in this region. Both men were declared Missing in Action, and the U.S. believed the enemy probably knew their fates. When the war ended, and 591 Americans were released in Operation Homecoming in 1973, military experts expressed their dismay that "some hundreds" of POWs did not come home with them. Since that time, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government, forcing many authorities to conclude that many Americans are still being held against their will in Southeast Asia. Whether Derrickson and Hardy are among them is not known. What is certain, however, is that if only one American remains alive in enemy hands, we owe him our best effort to bring him home. Thomas G. Derrickson II graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained missing. John K. Hardy, Jr. graduated from the University of Southern California.