MARTIN, SAMMY ARTHUR Name: Sammy Arthur Martin Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron Date of Birth: 16 October 1942 Home City of Record: Bryan TX Date of Loss: 27 December 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 172658N 1070900E (YE283304) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 5 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Refno: 0953 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. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around. 1Lt. Sammy A. Martin was a pilot trained for the "backseat" duties on the Phantom fighter/bomber aircraft. His job included such things as navigation, bombardier, or weapons systems operation, depending on the type of aircraft and variety of mission. Martin was assigned to the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Da Nang, South Vietnam. On December 27, 1967 Martin and his pilot were assigned an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Armed reconnaissance, in combat terms, really meant "look for targets and destroy them." During the mission Martin's aircraft was struck by hostile fire in the Quang Binh Province area. Martin and his pilot were able to guide the aircraft over water to facilitate rescue when they ejected. Both Martin and his pilot ejected safely and rescue operations proceeded normally. The pilot was recovered, but when Martin was hoisted out of the water by rescue helicopter, he slipped out of the rescue sling and dropped back into the water. Martin was lost from sight in a large wave. According to the Department of the Air Force, "evidence of [Martin's] death due to drowning was received" on December 28, 1967. The nature of the evidence is not stated, but Martin's body was not recovered. Sammy A. Martin is listed among the missing because his remains were never found to send home to the country he served. He died a tragically ironic death in the midst of war. But, for his family, the case seems clear that he died on that day. The fact that they have no body to bury with honor is not of great significance. For other who are missing, however, the evidence leads not to death, but to survival. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports received relating to Americans still held captive in Indochina have convinced experts that hundreds of men are still alive, waiting for their country to rescue them. The notion that Americans are dying without hope in the hands of a long-ago enemy belies the idea that we left Vietnam with honor. It also signals that tens of thousands of lost lives were a frivolous waste of our best men.