KEY, WILSON DENVER Name: Wilson Denver "Denny" Key Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 34, USS INTREPID (CVS 11) Date of Birth: 22 June 1940 (Wilkesboro NC) Home City of Record: Hayes NC Date of Loss: 17 November 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205000N 1055700E (WJ988038) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C Missions: 90 Other Personnel in Incident: none 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. REMARKS: 730314 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: The INTREPID was a World War II-era Essex-class aircraft carrier which had been adapted for jet operations in the 1950s. Its early tours of Vietnam were spent on Dixie Station in South Vietnam in support of operations there. Later, the antisubmarine carrier traded its S2 Trackers, SH3 helicopters and E1 Tracers for Skyhawks and Skyraiders and joined her sister ships on Yankee Station to supply air power for strikes over North Vietnam. One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the INTREPID was the A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was built by Douglas Aircraft to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size, the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and maneuverability were essential. LT Wilson D. Key was an A4 pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 34 onboard the USS INTREPID. the morning of November 17, 1967, LT Key was the wingman of the third section of Surface-to-air missile (SAM) suppressor aircraft in a two-carrier strike two miles southeast of the city of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Key's section leader, LCDR Teter, was also assigned an A4C. The two aircraft were launched from the carrier and proceeded to the target area. Approximately 10 miles southeast of the target area, the section encountered and evaded the first volley of SAMs. The flight continued to the target area and attacked a firing SAM site with rockets. During the attack, the section was constantly being tracked by missiles and missile guidance radar. At 1155 hours, upon egress from the target area, approximately 6 miles south of Hanoi, Key's aircraft took a direct hit by a SAM. He called that he was hit and ejected at about 800 feet altitude. His section leader observed a good parachute. LT Key was later seen running on the ground by pilots of two "TARCAP" aircraft but was surrounded by a number of persons, and was observed to be captured. For the next 5 1/2 years, LT Key was held prisoner in and around Hanoi. During his captivity, he was advanced to the rank of Captain. Then, in 1973, he was released from captivity along with 590 other Americans. At the time, military officials were dismayed that hundreds of Americans known or suspected to be prisoners were not released. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
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 WILSON D. KEY Lieutenant Commander- United States Navy Shot Down: November 17, 1967 Released: March 14, 1973 I graduated from the US Naval Academy in June of 1963, and married Alece the same day. l received my wings at New Iberia, Louisiana in September 1964 and went to Anti-Submarine Squadron (VS-26) in Norfolk, Virginia. I remained in that squadron until May 1966, when I transitioned into the A-4 Skyhawk and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Our son, Brian, was born in June 1966. He was still quite small when I left for Vietnam in May 1967 aboard the USS Intrepid. After about ninety missions over North Vietnam I was shot down near Hanoi on November 17, 1967 by a SAM. My imprisonment in North Vietnam was typical, I suppose. It was difficult at first, then boring and frustrating toward the end. While there, I developed a deep thirst for knowledge which I hope to begin quenching next year at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. After that I envision concentrating my efforts in the technical side of the Navy rather than returning to shipboard life and more cruises. At the same time I would like to increase the size of our family. It is difficult to say in a few words what sustained us while we were POWs, for it was a combination of many things. Some of these were - religion our families, the concern our country had for us, and certainly- daydreaming. However, in my opinion, the single most important factor was the close comradeship we developed with each other. Without that, things would have been much rougher. To be honest, I have not noticed as many changes in the United States as I had been led to believe I would. I think it is still a great country and we should all be proud of it and work to defend it and make it even better. No words can express how I feel about you, Alece, and the other POW/MIA wives that "kept the faith" through this long ordeal. France has her Joan of Arc and America has her POW/MIA wives! I would like to say to the families of the men that died while fighting in Vietnam that my most fervent hope is that history will show that they did not die in vain. I firmly believe that it will! From what I saw of the life under communism during my 64 months in North Vietnam, I can assure you that it is worth a great deal to avoid its spread.
Wilson Key retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He and Alece live in Florida. ---------------- Aug 21 1997 RE: Attempted escapes in NVN Hi MM, Just thought I would pass on my short escape experience for what its worth. I was shot down and captured about 20 miles east of Hanoi and was transferred to Hanoi by truck after the sun went down. On the way, I managed to untie myself and jump out of the back of the truck. Unfortunately I jumped in the middle of a village (the timing wasn't my choice; one of the guards discovered that I was untied.) Nevertheless, I managed to make my way through the village toward the south and suddenly the Red River lay before me (they were chasing me by this time). I jumped in and was able to swim under water far enough so that they lost me. I evaded for about an hour I guess before the armada of boats they launched found me. The only reprecussions for the escape was a few belts from the guards in the truck and a much more comprehensive tie job for the rest of the trip to Hanoi. GB, Denver Key