DICKSON, EDWARD ANDREW

Name: Edward Andrew Dickson
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Reserves
Unit: Attack Squadron 155, USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43)
Date of Birth: 03 September 1937
Home City of Record: Wyoming PA
Date of Loss: 07 February 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 173200N 1063600E (XE707391)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E
Refno: 0053
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 with the assistance of
Task Force Omega 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: EJECTED - NO PARA - SEAT -J

SYNOPSIS: By early January, 1965, following two significant military defeats
at the hands of North Vietnamese guerrilla forces, the Army of the Republic
of South Vietnam was near collapse; U.S. options were either to leave the
country or increase its military activity. President Johnson chose to
escalate. Plans were authorized for a "limited war" that included a bombing
campaign in North Vietnam.

The first major air strike over North Vietnam took place in reaction to Viet
Cong mortaring of an American advisor's compound at Pleiku on February 7,
1965. Eight Americans died in the attack, more than one hundred were
wounded, and ten aircraft were destroyed. President Johnson immediately
launched FLAMING DART I, a strike against the Vit Thu Lu staging area,
fifteen miles inland and five miles north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

Thirty-four aircraft launched from the USS RANGER, but were prevented from
carrying out that attack by poor weather, and the RANGER aircraft were not
allowed to join the forty-nine planes from the USS CORAL SEA and USS
HANCOCK, which struck the North Vietnamese army barracks and port facilities
at Dong Hoi.

LT Edward A. Dickson was an A4E Skyhawk pilot assigned to Attack Squadron
155 onboard the CORAL SEA. Dickson was a section leader in a four-plane
flight on the strike at Dong Hoi. About 5 miles south of the target area, LT
Dickson reported that his aircraft had been hit by ground fire. His wingman
was instructed to look his aircraft over for damage as they continued to
approach the final run-in to the target.

Just prior to reaching the bomb release point, LT Dickson's left wing burst
into flames and the wingman notified of that fact. At this time the flight
leader gave the signal to drop the bombs. Dickson continued in his bomb run,
turning out to sea only after his last bomb had left the aircraft. Upon
completing the bombing run, the flight made an immediate turn to head for
the sea, and for easier rescue. As the flight continued to the coastline it
was noted that the left wing of Dickson's aircraft was completely engulfed
in flames. He was instructed to eject, and upon ejection, the canopy and
ejection seat were observed to leave the plane.

Partly because the aircraft were traveling at a high rate of speed, no one
was sure Dickson himself left the aircraft, nor was a parachute seen
deployed. The crippled A4 crashed into the Gulf of Tonkin approximately
one-half mile off shore. Search and rescue facilities were alerted and
accompanying aircraft circled in the vicinity of the crash site for roughly
15 minutes without being able to locate their downed comrade. Weather
conditions in the target area were overcast with multiple stratus cloud
layers. The search was terminated two days later with no results.

LT Dickson, because he was lost over water, was classified Killed in Action,
Body Not Recovered. His name is listed among the missing because no remains
were ever found to return home.

The strike was judged at best an inadequate reprisal. It accounted for
sixteen destroyed buildings. The cost? The loss of one A4E Skyhawk pilot
from the USS CORAL SEA and eight damaged aircraft.

LT Dickson's loss was indeed ironic, or possibly just symbolic of the deadly
business of naval aviation. One year earlier, Dickson had narrowly evaded
death after ejecting from an A4 during a training exercise over the Sierra
Nevada range in California. His parachute failed to open, but Dickson landed
in a thirty-foot snowdrift and survived.

Edward A. Dickson is one of nearly 2500 Americans still missing from the
Vietnam war. Some certainly died. However, it is not totally clear that Lt.
Dickson actually died when his aircraft went down, or in a faulty ejection,
or if he survived to make it to shore or be picked up by boats in the area.
Like many cases of those missing, Lt. Dickson's case is unclear.

Tragically, since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been
received by the U.S. Government that have convinced many authorities that
hundreds of Americans are still alive, held captive in Southeast Asia. Most
of these reports remain classified, so no public judgement can be made as to
their worth.

Speculation continues that Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia,
waiting for their country to free them. It is not beyond comprehension that
Edward A. Dickson could be one of them. If so, what must he think of us?