GIROUX, PETER JAMES Name: Peter James Giroux Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, pilot Unit: 22nd Bomber Wing, Utapao Airfield, Thailand Date of Birth: 08 August 1944 Home City of Record: Trumansburg NY Loss Date: 22 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212500N 1062500E (WJ866264) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D Missions: 264 Other Personnel In Incident: Thomas W. Bennett; (missing); Louis E. LeBlanc; Peter P. Camerota (both returned POWs in 1973); Gerald W. Alley; Joseph B. Copack (remains returned) 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. REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. In early December 1972, several men stationed at Utapao, Thailand sent Christmas presents home and readied themselves for a few final runs they would have to make before Christmas. They were looking forward to returning to Thailand in time to see Bob Hope on December 22. They never saw Bob Hope, and none of them returned for Christmas. On December 22, a B52D crew consisting of Capt. Thomas W. Bennett, co-pilot; LtCol. Gerald W. Alley; Capt. Peter P. Camerota, bombardier; 1Lt. Joseph B. Copack, Jr., navigator; Capt. Peter J. Giroux, pilot; and MSgt. Louis E. LeBlanc, tailgunner; departed Utapao on a bombing mission over Hanoi. When the B52D was about 50 miles northwest of Hanoi, it was hit by Surface to Air Missiles (SAM). Bennett called the mayday and manually ejected the pilot, who had blacked out and then bailed out himself. The tailgunner later reported that he observed in the bright moonlight that the entire crew of six had deployed parachutes. Three of them, Camerota, Giroux and LeBlanc were released from prisoner of war camps in Hanoi a few months later in the general prisoner release of 1973. The U.S. was not expecting them. They had not known that the three were being held prisoner. Alley, Copack and Bennett were not released and remained Missing in Action. During the month of December, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in 1973. The remains of about a dozen more have been returned over the years, and the rest are still missing. At least 10 of those missing survived to eject safely. Where are they? As reports mounted following the war convinced many authorities that hundreds of Americans were still held captive in Southeast Asia, many families wonder if their men were among those said to be still alive in captivity, and are frustrated at inadequate efforts by the U.S. Government to get information on their men. On June 23, 1989, the U.S. announced that the Vietnamese had "discovered" the remains of Gerald W. Alley and Josepg B. Copack and had sent them home at last. For 17 years, Alley and Copack - alive or dead - were prisoners in enemy hands. Their families at last know for certain that their sons are dead. What they may never know, however, is how - and when - they died, and if they knew that their country had abandoned them. Gerald W. Alley was promoted to the rank of Colonel, Thomas W. Bennett was promoted to the rank of Major and Joseph B. Copack was promoted to the rank of Captain during the period they were maintained missing. SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO PETER J. GIROUX Captain - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 22, 1972 Released: February 12, 1973 I was born in Ithaca, New York on August 8, 1944 and grew up in Trumansburg, a small town about ten miles to the north. I graduated from high school in 1962 and from LeMoyne College in Syracuse in 1966 with a degree in Labor Relations. Following college I chose a career in the Air Force. I attended GTS in San Antonio in late 1966 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 4 January 1967. I earned my wings as a member of Class 68-E at Craig AFB in Selma, Alabama. My first operational assignment was as a copilot in the 553rd Reconnaissance Squadron at Korat, Thailand where I flew 104 missions and accumulated over 1100 hours in the EC-121R. Returning to the United States I was assigned to the 22nd Bomb Wing at March AFB flying the B-52. In a year and a half I had been able to upgrade to Aircraft Commander and had flown as "AC" for over a year prior to my shootdown. Our extended TDY began in Hawaii the 5th of April where I was on leave with my wife. Thirty hours later I was on Guam. At the time of my shootdown I had flown 160 missions in the B-52D with 43 over the North. On our mission on the 22nd of December we were struck by a SAM short of the target but were able to accomplish our bomb release. The aircraft's condition rapidly deteriorated and bailout became necessary due to fire and control failure. With my interphone inoperative I turned on the abandon light (our bailout signal) and immediately heard ejection seats fire. Apparently my oxygen system had been damaged by shrapnel and I lost consciousness when the aircraft decompressed. My next recollection was hanging in the strap - upside down. I grabbed at the ejection seat and it fired. It was early morning when I next awoke, my ejection system had worked perfectly. I was surrounded by North Vietnamese civilians and was getting a rough haircut with a pair of garden shears. I spent only 52 days in North Vietnam since under the terms of the agreements, a broken arm and dislocated elbow put me on the first aircraft to leave Hanoi. An operation on my arm soon after my return has had promising results and I soon hope to return to flying status and continue my career and education. I've often felt that I was hardly imprisoned long enough to realize the reality of my imprisonment. My optimism at an imminent release helped me the most. After being a part of the bombing of Hanoi and then seeing it from the ground, I thought my stay would not be a long one. Thankfully it wasn't. My stay in North Vietnam taught me to appreciate the simple facts of the freedom that we enjoy. Each open door is a reminder.
Peter Giroux retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and his wife Mareyn reside in Kansas.