MOORE, ERNEST MELVIN JR. Name: Ernest Melvin "Mel" Moore, Jr. Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 192, USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Millbrae CA Loss Date: 11 March 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 204500N 1061200E (XH249947) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E 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: 730304 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: The USS TICONDEROGA (CVA 14) was first in Vietnam waters in late 1944 when fighter planes from the TICONDEROGA and the USS HANCOCK flew strike missions against enemy vessels in Saigon Harbor. The TICONDEROGA, the fourteenth U.S. aircraft carrier to be built, was on station during the very early years of the Vietnam war and remained throughout most of the duration of the war. The "World Famous Golden Dragons" of Attack squadron 192 returned to the waters off North Vietnam in November 1966, their third combat deployment and a cruise that would prove to be both intense and noteworthy. Commander Ernest M. "Mel" Moore, Jr. was an A4E Skyhawk pilot and the executive officer of Attack Squadron ONE NINE TWO, onboard the USS TICONDEROGA. As the monsoon season drew to a close and spring arrived, VA-192 increased the numbers of strikes it made against targets in the Iron Triangle (Hanoi/Haiphong/Thanh Hoa) region of North Vietnam. CDR Moore was one of six SHRIKE pilots in the squadron. SHRIKE missions were considered to be among the toughest of the war. The SHRIKE pilot's job was to fly ahead of the strike group by five to seven minutes literally trying to draw fire from the surface-to-air missile emplacements. When the ground radar found the SHRIKE, the pilot would fire anti-radar missiles at SAM sites. The goal was either to actually knock out the SAM radar or, as was sometimes the case, to force the North Vietnamese to turn off the radar, enabling the alpha strike force behind the SHRIKE aircraft to fly on and off their targets without SAMs launched against them. The more SAMs that were fired at the SHRIKES meant fewer fired at the formations, which had to stay together to complete their part of the mission. Moore had led several SHRIKE missions, which were flown by more experienced pilots, and on a volunteer basis in this squadron. On the squadron's first alpha strike, on a truck facility at (Van Dien near Hanoi) two of four SHRIKE aircraft led by Moore were hit, while the other two did a lot of dodging. Both of the damaged aircraft made it back to ship and the pilots were safe. On March 11, 1967, Moore launched in his A4E on another SHRIKE mission in the Iron Triangle. during the mission, his aircraft was hit by enemy fire and he was forced to eject. Moore was captured immediately. The period in which Moore was captured was not a good one for "guests" of Hanoi. It was the period of greatest torture and deprivation for American POWs. The world did not yet know the inhumane treatment Americans were receiving in the hands of the North Vietnamese. Meanwhile, the Golden Dragons continued their strikes against targets in North Vietnam. The month after Moore was captured was a landmark month for Naval aviation, although one of tragedy for the family of a the squadron's operations officer, LCDR Michael J. Estocin. Michael John Estocin is the only Navy jet pilot to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for a combat role. He was awarded the CMH for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 20 and 26 April 1967 while flying SHRIKE from VA 192 onboard the TICONDEROGA. While the CMH was not normally given for a combination of missions, an exception was made for this very intense two-day SHRIKE mission and, according to those who flew with Estocin, the honor was well-deserved. Although Estocin was classified as a Prisoner of War, he was not returned at the end of the war. He remains missing. Mel Moore was released in Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was among 591 Americans to be released from prison camps in Vietnam. 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 ERNEST M. MOORE JR. Captain - United States Navy Shot Down: March 11, 1967 Released: March 4, 1973 PERSONAL DATA Naval Aviation Cadet Commissioned Ensign in May 1952 Fighter and Attack Squadrons BA-Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California Daughters: Michelle, 17, Melissa 15, Leslie 10 Live in Coronado, California Future plans: Intend to remain in the Service MESSAGE It is very important that those six years of my life leave no feelings of bitterness within me. I have worked hard to make those bleak years contribute something of value to me as a man - as a human being. I have succeeded to some degree. The simple process of mental exercise, especially in solitary confinement, has helped me arrive at some simple basic truths about life and my place in this structure of human interaction. I know what Freedom is because men attempted to deprive me of it. I have found Freedom to be a mental attitude: you can be free even though confined in a cell if you set your mind to that task. Then you learn that Freedom of speech is as much an obligation as it is a right. You must insure that those who have opposite views are allowed to express them through the same media that you use to express your opinions and beliefs. You don't have that right in Hanoi, but we do have it here in the United States of America. We have problems in our country, but we are a great people. United we can accomplish almost anything we wish to achieve. We have so very much, we can afford to be generous with the less fortunate people of this world. Life is very beautiful for me now. All those dreams I had in prison about my family and my countrymen have actualized far beyond my dreams. I don't think a man can get beyond that. I have dealt destruction and know deeply the tragedy of war. Yet in the end, knowing the tragedy and terror of war, it is necessary to combat those who would try to control every thought, breath, and word - even every act of life, to their own way. That is a more evil thing.
Ernest Moore retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He lives in California.