MAYALL, WILLIAM THOMAS Name: William Thomas Mayall Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force, NAV Unit: 307 Strat Wing Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Levittown NY Date of Loss: 22 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210125N 1055100E (WJ880210) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B52 Other Personnel in Incident: Gary L. Morgan; John H. Yuill; David I. Drummond; William W. Conlee; Louis H. Bernasconi (all released POWs) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 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: RELSD 730329 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. Linebacker II flights generally arrived over Hanoi in tight cells of three aircraft to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on the military targets and not in civilian areas. The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward." To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick to a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictable B52 strikes were anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however, flight paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile threat from the ground. Still, aircraft were shot down near the end of the campaign. On December 22, 1972, a B52 was shot down near Hanoi. Its crew included LTCOL John H. Yuill, LTCOL Louis H. Bernasconi, LTCOL William W. Conlee, CAPT David I. Drummond, 1LT William T. Mayall, and TSGT Gary L. Morgan. This crew was exceptionally fortunate--they were all were captured by the North Vietnamese. The captured crew was held in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, at which time they were released in Operation Homecoming. The U.S. did not know all of them had been captured. Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapoa Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with over one thousand men flying the missions. However, the bombings were not conducted without high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December 1972, 61 crewmembers onboard ten B52 aircraft were shot down and were captured or declared missing. (The B52 carried a crew of six men; however, one B52 lost carried an extra crewman.) Of these 61, 33 men were released in 1973. The others remained missing at the end of the war. Over half of these survived to eject safely. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The crew of the B52 shot down on December 22 was lucky to have survived and only have a few weeks imprisonment. Many authorities are now convinced that many Americans are still held captive in Southeast Asia. It's time we found them and brought them 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 WILLIAM T. MAYALL 1st Lieutenant - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 22, 1972 Released: March 29, 1973 I began my Air Force career by being commissioned a Second Lieutenant in November of 1970. I reported to Mather AFB for navigator training as my first assignment. Upon completion of my training, I remained at Mather to attend the advanced navigator school for navigator-bombadiers. Upon completion of NBT, I was assigned to a B-52 bomber at Carswell AFB, Texas. I reported to Carswell in September of 1972. After checking out in the aircraft, I left for overseas in November of 1972. I had been flying overseas for about five weeks when the December eighteenth bombing raids began. While flying a combat mission on the morning of December 22, 1972, our B-52 was hit by two surface to air missiles over Hanoi, North Vietnam. The missiles impacted the aircraft in the belly just in front of where the navigators sit downstairs. The plane, although still flying, was burning badly. With the impact of the second missile, we had lost our interphone and were unable to communicate with each other. After approximately thirty seconds the red bail out light came on and the ejection sequence was started. The radar navigator gave me a thumbs up signaling me to go. I pulled my ejection handle but unfortunately my ejection seat malfunctioned and would not work. After several moments of frantic pulling, the radar navigator, realizing what had happened, proceeded to eject, thus affording me an alternate means of escape. I saw him eject and then I disengaged myself from my seat and proceeded to make a manual bailout out the navigator's hatch. Upon hitting the slip-stream, I was violently tossed about in the air. I had my fists clenched and my gloves were ripped off down to my finger nails. I had the sensation of a doll being flailed about in a strong a wind. I remember fighting to obtain a good body position so as to be prepared for the initial shock of my parachute opening. I was still struggling when suddenly I heard a loud pop and I was under my chute. The ride down was a long one. I couldn't see the ground or where I was going to land because of dense cloud coverage. I finally broke through the clouds about ten seconds before I hit the ground. I landed in a rice paddy and within moments the North Vietnamese had arrived with their rifles blazing and effected my capture. The time was 0400. By mid-afternoon I was in an isolation cell in the Hanoi Hilton. The interrogation began almost immediately. I remained in isolation five days and was then moved into a larger cell with seven other B-52 prisoners. Fortunately I was only held captive a comparatively short time. Ninety-seven and a half days to be exact. During that time, and since my return home, I have learned a great deal about myself. My religious-convictions have been greatly reinforced as well as my faith in the American people. There were many lonely nights in Hanoi. More than once the question arose as to whether anyone knew or cared of my captivity. I never lost faith though, and upon my return home the American people showed me that my faith in them was justified. Their overwhelming response to the POW's homecoming was tremendous and gratifying. I will be forever grateful to the many thousands of people who came out at all hours of the night, in all kinds of weather to greet us. My family and I are extremely appreciative of the many kind letters and messages that the American people sent to us during my captivity and since my return home. I will be forever grateful for your tremendous support. ======================
Wiliam Mayall retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel in 2000. He resides in Virginia.