MEHL, JAMES PATRICK
|Name: James Patrick Mehl
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 93, USS HANCOCK (CVA 19)
Date of Birth: 26 February 1929 (Brooklyn NY)
Home City of Record: Belle Harbor NY
Date of Loss: 30 May 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 203700N 1060600E (XH146799)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
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.
REMARKS: 730304 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS HANCOCK first saw action in Vietnam when aircraft from her
decks flew strikes against enemy vessels in Saigon Harbor in late 1944. The
Essex class carrier, extensively modernized, returned to Vietnam during the
early years of the Vietnam war. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK
and USS RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S.
Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. The HANCOCK was the smallest type of
flattop to operate in the Vietnam theater, but pilots from her fighter and
attack squadrons distinguished themselves throughout the duration of the war.
On June 12, 1966, Commander Hal Marr, the CO of VF-211 gained the first F8
Russian MiG kill.
Among the aircraft launched from the decks of the HANCOCK was the Douglas
Aircraft A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was 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
Commander James P. Mehl was an A4E pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 93
onboard the USS HANCOCK. On May 30, 1967 Commander Mehl was the section leader
of a two-aircraft strike group assigned targets in Thai Binh Province, North
Upon entering the target area, Commander Mehl and his wingman began receiving
indication that a surface-to-air missile (SAM) site to the north was preparing
to launch a missile. Mehl eluded one missile and maneuvered his aircraft to
fire his shrike missiles at the site. When in a 10 degree nose-high attitude,
a second missile impacted the underside of his aircraft. Cdr. Mehl immediately
turned toward the water, but was forced to ejected near the city of Hung Yen.
His parachute was observed after he left the aircraft.
Cdr. Mehl landed in a field situated in a heavily populated area near the
juncture of Ha Tay, Hai Hung, Nam Ha and Thai Binh Provinces. People were
observed to converge the area immediately, precluding any rescue attempt. A
report from the Hanoi broadcast system mentioned Mehl by name and stated that
he had been captured.
In the spring of 1973, 591 Americans were released from prisoner of war camps
in Vietnam, and James P. Mehl was among them. He had been promoted to the rank
of Captain during his captivity. Military authorities were shocked that
hundreds more known or suspected to be prisoner were not released. Further,
the Vietnamese denied knowledge of these men.
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
JAMES P. MEHL
Captain - United States Navy
Shot Down: May 30, 1967
Released: March 4, 1973
I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on 26 Feb. 1929 at my home on Collier Street. My
parents were William A. and Frances J. Mehl who are now deceased. (1969 and
1963). My father's occupation was law and CPA. He was an executive with the
U.S. Maritime Commission until his retirement in 1962.
I grew up in Belle Harbor, Long Island, attending public grammar school and
then St. Francis Preparatory H S. in Brooklyn. I have two older sisters,
Catherine Fluhr and Frances Doyle. Catherine (Kay) is now living in Florida
and Frances in Forest Hills, N.Y.
I attended the U.S. Naval Academy graduating in 1951. Let's not discuss class
standing! My first assignment was on board USS Salem (CA 139). In April 1952 I
departed for Pensacola and received my wings on Aug. 12, 1953. I served in
Fighter Squadron 153 at Moffett Field, Calif. from Dec. 1953 until Nov. 1956.
Then two tours in Wes Pac on board USS Yorktown and Wasp. We flew F9F6, FJ3
and F9F8 airplanes.
On 1 Oct. 1955 I married Mary Rose Doyle from Forest Hills, New York. Mary is
beautiful, blue eyed, and very Irish. We have two children, Rosemary (25 July
56) and James P. Jr. (27 June 59). Our current address is in Hauppauge, N.Y.
We are together again and very happy.
I instructed in the Dept. of Seamanship and Navigation at the U.S.N.A. from
Dec. 56 until July 1959. Following that wonderful tour I served with Attack
Squadron 66 at Oceana, Va. and on board USS Intreped. After training at VA 43
we had two cruises in the Med. and a short cruise in the Caribbean flying A4
airplanes. I then served as Attack Assistant in the Air Warfare Department of
the staff of COMOPTEVFOR in Norfolk, Va. (1962-1964).
From July 1964 until May 1965 I studied AeroEngineering at the U.S. Naval
Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. (B.S. degree AeroEng). I then served
as Executive Officer of Attack Squadron 93 at NAS Lemoore, Calif. and onboard
USS Hancock. (Refreshed at VA 125) I was shot down by a SAM about 20 miles
south of Hanoi on 30 May 1967 while flying A4E.
I was a Hanoi Hilton resident until March 4,1973. Oh! great day! Life in Hanoi
was long, hard, slow, and lonely. What sustained me, especially during those
terrible first few years, were the happy memories of my life before capture. I
had had 38 good years in our wonderful country and figured that, no matter
what would happen, I had received more than my share of good fortune on this
earth and counted myself as lucky even on the worst days in prison. I know now
just how lucky I really am and I thank God for it. I have had the chance to
compare the American way of life with those countries which are not blessed as
we are and I am absolutely certain that no sacrifice would be too great to
protect it. My prayers are for a united, peaceful, and happy America.
James Mehl retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He and his wife
Mary reside in Virginia.
James Mehl, RIP
Captain James Patrick Mehl USN (Ret) passed away on Tuesday, August 29, 2017.
Captain Mehl was born on February 26, 1929 in Brooklyn, N.Y. and attended St. Francis Preparatory High School. He was appointed from N.Y. and entered the Naval Academy in 1947. Graduating with the Class of 1951, his first assignment was to the USS Salem (CA 39). Captain Mehl attended Flight Training and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1953. He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 153, deploying in the Yorktown and Wasp in the Pacific Fleet. His next tour, 1956-1959, was as instructor at the Naval Academy. From 1959 until 1962, he served in Attack Squadron 66 on board the Intrepid. He next served as Light Attack Assistant on the Staff of Comoptevfor. He attended the USNPGS, graduating in 1965 with a BS in Aero Engineering. His next duty was with Attack Squadron 93 as Executive officer in Hancock. He was shot down on a SAM Suppression mission near Hanoi in May 1967 and was held prisoner until 1973. Upon return to duty, he attended ICAF at Ft. McNair. He received his Master's Degree from the George Washington University in 1974. His final assignment was Project Manager for the A-4/ TA-4 aircraft procurement at NAVAIR in Washington, D.C. He retired from active duty on January 1, 1979.
Captain Mehl worked as a Senior Systems Engineer at Syscon Corp. 1987 and at IRT Inc. until 1989, His last employment was with CONWAL Inc. as a Division Director.
Captain Mehl's honors and decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with "V" device, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purples hearts, and 8 Air Medals and the NCM.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the wonderful staff members of Lighthouse Healthcare Inc. and Capital Caring Hospice for allowing Captain Mehl to spend his final days with his wife of 61 years Mary (Nee Doyle). Captain Mehl is also survived by a daughter Dr. Rosemary Mehl (Dr. Gary Balady) a son James P. Mehl, Jr. and grandchildren Andrew and Dr. Stephen Balady. Services will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery.
I just wanted to let you know that Jim Mehl's wife Mary passed away at
home on September 15, 2017 and they are now together in peace
They will have a service together at Arlington National Cemetery sometime
next year. I will let you know when we have a date... RB