HOPPER, EARL PEARSON JR.
Remains I.D.'d 01/16/2002
Name: Earl Pearson Hopper, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB TH Date of Birth: 21 July 1943 Home City of Record: Glendale AZ Date of Loss: 10 January 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 202559N 1044659E (VH774777) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Other Personnel In Incident: Keith N. Hall (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 October 1990 from information provided by Col. Earl P. Hopper, Sr. (USA, ret.) and Patty Skelly of Task Force Omega, Inc., as well as information from a December, 1984 article by Larry J. O'Daniel. Other information from one more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.
Another side to the story: http://www.miafacts.org/hopper.htm
REMARKS: EJECTION PROBS/DWN/CRASH
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Keith N. Hall and 1Lt. Earl P. Hopper, Jr. were pilots assigned to the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Udorn Airbase, Thailand. On January 10, 1968 the two flew their first mission together on an "aircap" mission over Hanoi. Hall was the pilot, and Hopper flew as Bombardier/Navigator on the flight. During the mission, the aircraft was damaged by a SAM missile exploding 100 feet below and to the right of the aircraft, knocking out the hydraulic system. Neither Hall nor Hopper was injured by the blast.
After some initial ejection problems, Capt. Hall, was able to bail out. [Note: Normal ejection sequence calls for the backseater to bail out first, followed a few seconds later by the pilot.] Other pilots in the flight marked Hall's position, then continued with Hopper as he headed for Laos.
Hopper was about 15 miles north of Muong Min in Hoa Binh Province and nearly to the border of Laos when he ejected. Hall had ejected about 20 miles to the east. The accompanying pilots observed the canopy of the aircraft and Hopper's ejection seat leave the aircraft as the aircraft was about to enter a 5,000 foot overcast. The pilots also picked up two emergency radio signals, one very strong and the other rather weak, indicating that both men reached the ground.
Hall was captured about 40 minutes after he bailed out. Hopper's radio signal was tracked for three consecutive days in the rugged, mountainous area where the aircraft went down. On the second or third day, a pilot monitoring the beeper gave Hopper's recognition code and said, "Lt. Hopper, if that's you, give me 15-second intervals (in his radio signal)." The pilot received six 15-second intervals in a positive response. This information was released to the family in a February 8, 1968 communique. On about the third day, a ground search team was inserted into the area, and recovered Hopper's radio, but no trace of Hopper was found.
Hall was captured by the North Vietnamese and released in 1973. Hall was closely interrogated regarding personal information about Hopper, but knew little. The Vietnamese guard was noncommittal when Hall asked if Hopper was also a prisoner.
On July 14, 1982, "due to the length of time missing and with no information to prove he is alive," Hopper's official status, Missing In Action, was changed to Presumed Killed In Action. Only two months later, a three-man judiciary committee from the U.S. Justice Department, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, found officially that Hopper should have been classified Prisoner of War, not Missing In Action.
During the first few months of 1984, the Hopper family learned that CIA had always listed Hopper as a POW. Further, CIA files revealed that the agency had tracked Hopper as he headed for a "safe" area in Laos, that there were heavy concentrations of NVA and Pathet Lao troops in the area searching for the downed pilot, and that the CIA sent a free Lao team to extract him. When Hopper knew he was in imminent danger of being captured, he locked the transmission key on his radio in the "on" position, extended the antenna, and hid it, thus marking his location of capture for the search team.
From 1981 to 1984, Major Mark A. Smith (a returned POW from Vietnam) and SFC Melvin McIntyre, both attached to Special Forces Detachment, Korea (SFDK) were pursuing DIA instructions to gather intelligence on American POWs who remained in captivity in Southeast Asia. Smith and McIntyre, who did not believe Americans were held, obtained specific information which convinced them that Americans were still alive at that time, held captive. Among other evidence presented to the U.S. was a list of some 26 Americans by name and captivity location. Earl Hopper's name was on the list.
In 1984, Maj. Smith received word that on 11 May three U.S. POWs would be brought to a given location on the Lao/Thai border. The only prerequisite was that the POWs be received by an American. Smith's request to stand on the border and wait for delivery was refused, and he and his team were commanded to remain in Korea. If the three Americans were brought to the border, no one was there to receive them. Smith and McIntyre believed Hopper to be one of the three men.
The information obtained by Smith and McIntyre was provided under oath to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on January 28, 1986, and included in a lawsuit the two initiated against the U.S. Government for its failure to protect the rights of live American POWs in Southeast Asia.
Parents Earl and Betty Hopper have diligently sought information on their son and others who disappeared in Southeast Asia. They believe there is actionable evidence that some are still alive in captivity. Until that evidence is acted upon, and proof is obtained to the contrary, they will not give up hope that their son is alive.
1Lt. Earl Hopper graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1965 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.
This in from Task Force Omega: =============== 18 February 1998
Bette Lee Hopper, mother of Lt. Col. Earl P. Hopper, Jr., Missing in Action over North Vietnam since 10 January 1968, passed away at 4:25 AM, 17 February 1998, at age 74. She suffered for many years with Alzheimer's and died due to complications of that disease.
Bette Hopper is survived by her husband, Col. Earl P. Hopper, Sr., US Army, Retired; sons Michael B. Hopper, Larry D. Hopper, Daniel W. Hopper and D. David Hopper. She also leaves 11 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
For many years Bette was very active in the National League of Families of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. During those years, she worked tirelessly for not only the return of her oldest son, but also for the return of all POW/MIAs from throughout Southeast Asia. She was always very adamant in her belief that Live Prisoners of War were abandoned for political expediency at the conclusion of the Vietnam War, and often voiced her opinion to US Government and military officials, POW/MIA families and to the American public. Further, she was certain that her missing son, along with many other POW/MIAs, remained alive and held captive by enemy forces in Southeast Asia.
Bette, though frank and outspoken, had many friends in the POW/MIA community. Her untiring efforts earned her great respect throughout the country. Prior to her illness, her advise and counsel were sought by many.
Bette will be remembered by family and friends alike for her unwavering love of family, devotion to her children and grandchildren and her great tenacity in her unending quest to find and return her first-born son to the nation he fought so valiantly for. She believed, as did many other POW/MIA family members, that it was her strong responsibility to do everything within her power to learn the truth about what happened to her son.
We ask that her fight for the return of all Prisoners of War - both alive and dead - be continued in her absence.
JOINT TASK FORCE-FULL ACCOUNTING 10th ANNIVERSARY CEREMONY
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii - Jan. 23, 2002 marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Joint Task Force-Full Accounting. During this time, JTF-FA has helped to locate and return the remains of more than 323 individuals who were missing in action from the Vietnam War. During a ceremony at 11 a.m., Jan. 23, 2002 at the Sunset Lanai at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award will be presented as well as a plaque honoring seven members of the unit who died in a helicopter crash in 2001. Lt. Gen. T. R. Case, Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, will be presiding over the ceremony.
JTF-FA will present the command briefing to interested media at 9 a.m., Jan. 23 in building #20 at Camp Smith. Following the briefing, Brig. Gen. Steven J. Redmann will hold a short Q & A session. Media wishing to attend the 10th anniversary ceremony should contact Joint Task Force-Full Accounting public affairs office point of contact by noon, Jan. 22, 2002.
More information about Joint Task Force-Full Accounting can be found on the web site at http://www.pacom.mil/jtffa.htm. JTF-FA point of contact is: Capt. Gina Jackson (808) 477-5301....
On 16 January 2002, the AFIRB met and approved the identification of CILHI 1998-039-I-01 as the individual remains from an incident involving: Hopper, Earl P., Jr., LtCol, USAF, 526-60-4263, REFNO 0981-0-01. =======================================================================
April 02, 2009
Airman Missing In Action From The Vietnam War Is Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. airman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Lt. Col. Earl P. Hopper Jr., U.S. Air Force, of Phoenix, Ariz. He is to be buried on April 3 at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.
On Jan. 10, 1968, Hopper and Capt. Keith Hall were flying an F-4D Phantom near Hanoi, North Vietnam, as part of a four-ship MiG combat air patrol. Before they reached the target, an enemy surface-to-air missile exploded slightly below their aircraft. Hall radioed that he and Hopper were ejecting. He told Hopper to eject, but when he heard no response, he repeated "Earl get out!" Hopper replied, "I've pulled on it and it [the ejection seat] did not go," followed by "you go!" Hall then pulled on his primary ejection handle but it failed to initiate, forcing him to use the alternate. Hall was captured and held as a prisoner of war until 1973, but Hopper was unable to get out of the aircraft.
Between 1993-1998, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) conducted three joint investigations and five excavations at the crash site in Son La Province, west of Hanoi. The team interviewed four informants who had knowledge of the site. The excavations recovered numerous skeletal fragments and crew-related items which were ultimately used in the forensic identification process.
Among other forensic tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists used extensive dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.
Thanks for sending this to me. However, please understand that neither Earl, Sr. not I accepted the 5 teeth/part's of teeth and 23 extremely small unidentifiable bone fragements as the total mortal remains of Earl, Jr. For a complete, indepth look at his case and why we took the stand we did, please read the attached 4 documents in this order as it is how they were prepared:
40 years later, military burial for airman
More than 40 years after he was shot down on the North Vietnamese-Laotian border, Air Force Lt. Col. Earl P. Hopper Jr. is getting a military funeral and burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona......