MONGILARDI, PETER JR. REMAINS RETURNED - Not Noted on USG lists.
Name: Peter Mongilardi, Jr. Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 153, USS CORAL SEA Date of Birth: 01 July 1925 Home City of Record: Haledon NJ Date of Loss: 25 June 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 195358N 1053557E (WH628002) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C Refno: 0103 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 2009.
REMARKS: VISRAD CNTC - LST SAR N - FBIS - J
SYNOPSIS: Air Wing 15 deployed to Southeast Asia in November 1964 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA, participating in FLAMING DART's two raids in retaliation to North Vietnamese aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin. One of the attack squadrons in Air Wing 15 was the Blue Tails - Attack Squadron 153, so named because of the splash of blue on the tails of their A4 Skyhawks.
CDR Peter Mongilardi Jr. was the skipper of VA 153 until May 1965, at which time he assumed duties as air wing commander (CAG), and was replaced by CDR Harry E. Thomas. Before the long cruise was over in December, both Mongilardi and Thomas were dead.
It was during this period that the North Vietnamese, assisted by the Soviet Union and Chinese, was beginning to build its military from technology-poor and ground-oriented military to one with one of the world's strongest and most sophisticated air defense networks.
As a defense against U.S. air strikes over North Vietnam (ROLLING THUNDER) North Vietnamese missile sites grew from ground zero in 1965 to estimates three years later of two hundred surface-to-air (SAM) sites nationwide and some thirty missile battalions in the Hanoi area alone. Each battalion contained up to six missile launchers plus accompanying radar, computers and generators. The U.S. discovered the first SAM site in April 1965, yet U.S. pilots were forbidden to take immediate defensive action.
The CORAL SEA was in Japan in June 1965 on its way to the U.S. The ordnance and aircraft had already been offloaded, and Thomas and Mongilardi were on a last liberty together. While on liberty, they discovered they they were shipping back to Vietnam.
On the first day back, Mongilardi and his wingman, Paul Reyes, flew on an armed reconnaissance mission. CDR David Leue and his wingman were briefed at the same time in case one of the wingmen went down, and, as luck would have it, Leue's wingman could not transfer his drop tank and was sent back to the ship. Leue joined up with Pete and his wingman. Leue describes armed "recce" as "usually two people flying down a route, really target practice for the local AAA batteries as you come down the pike. I always said if I made it to admiral I would not have done traditional armed recce. To many people are lost."
The three pilots were in the area of Thanh Hoa. Leue was flying with instrument problems, and had no air speed altimeter or pressurization. It was no problem except for determining the flight altitude. Through some broken clouds, Leue spotted a power plant below and radioed that he was rolling in on it. Mongilardi ordered him not to hit the plant because it was denied under the rules of engagement.
By this time, Leue had pulled away from Mongilardi and his wingman, and he turned to rejoin them. As he did, Mongilardi radioed, "I'm rolling in on a little bridge," followed by, "Flak." Leue heard Mongilardi get hit and said, "He actually keyed the mike, I heard a couple of deep breaths, and I called Reyes to ask 'Where are you?' Paul said, 'We're by this rain storm and I've lost CAG [Mongilardi]. I don't know where he is.' Well, he'd been shot and killed; a real tough loss."
Leue was saddened to lose Mongilardi, whom he described as "a superior air wing commander, naval officer and warrior." It was less than two months later, on August 13, 1965, when CDR Harry Thomas was shot down 70 miles west of Hanoi on a low-level strike mission searching for SAM sites. Thomas' aircraft flew into a volley of flak, was hit and crashed. Thomas did not survive. Leue was moved into the position of skipper of the Blue Tails, carrying with him the sadness of having lost two superior squadron commanders.
CDR Mongilardi was originally classified Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. He was listed among the missing because his remains not found at the time.
=============================== From - Wed Mar 08 07:44:25 2000 Subject: Incorrect Status regarding my fathers remains
My name is Raoul Peter Mongilardi, My Father Cmdr. Peter Mongilardi was shot down in 1965. Two websites post his status as "body not recovered" which is aside from invasive to my family, not accurate.
The fact is hsi remains WERE accounted for and returned in 1994 by efforts inacted by his daughter, my sister, Mrs, Julie Sims and myself. The websites, www.angelfire.com & www.geocities.com/Bourbon Street where a miss Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org continue to ignore my requests to remove this inaccuracy.
I have tried to email Cheryl but her email is returned...? It would seem to me that anyone who cares enough to "adopt a POW/ MIA" would take the time to research the true status of that person and not simply ignore the wishes of the surving family members. If you have any means to communicate with these people I would appreciate the dignity of a response to my family's concerns in this matter.
Otherwise I will take steps to inform the Dept. Of the Navy that my families privacy is being invaded.
Raoul Peter Mongilardi
New Jersey Record (NJ) May 19, 2006
Navy seeks DNA to confirm pilot is Haledon man
HALEDON HALEDON In December 1965, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier named the Coral Sea embarked from the sunny shores of Alameda, Calif., sailing toward enemy territory the Bay of Tonkin in Vietnam.....
January 25, 2007
NAVY AVIATOR MISSING IN ACTION FROM THE VIETNAM WAR IS IDENTIFIED
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Cmdr. Peter Mongilardi, Jr., U.S. Navy, of Haledon, N.J. He will be buried on April 11 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C.
On June 25, 1965, Mongilardi departed the USS Coral Sea in his A-4C Skyhawk on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. His flight encountered bad weather and enemy fire over Thanh Hoa Province, causing the wingman to lose visual and radio contact with Mongilardi. Contact was never re-established and the aircraft failed to return to the carrier.
In 1993, a joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) archival team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), obtained information concerning the crash while researching documents, artifacts and photographs at the Central Army Museum in Hanoi. Later that year, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team conducted an investigation in Thanh Hoa Province. The team interviewed two local Vietnamese citizens who recalled the crash and said the pilot died in the impact. The men then led the team to the crash site.
In 1994, another joint team excavated the crash site and recovered human remains and pilot-related items, including a belt tip, boot heel, pieces of flight boot and other items worn by the pilot.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used nuclear DNA in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.
Date: February 15, 2007 10:42:07 AM EST Subject: Funeral for CDR Peter Mongilardi, CAG Air Wing 15/USS Coral Sea, SEA
CDR Peter Mongilardi, CAG CVW-15, KIA 25 June 1965, will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on Wed, 11 April 07, at 1100.
An A-4 driver and light attack pilot, CDR Mongilardi has the distinction of being the first CAG to be lost in VN. After serving as CO of VA-153, the 'Blue Tail Flies' (aboard the USS CORAL SEA, during her historic 12 month-long SEA combat cruise of 1964-1965), he was advanced to CAG of CVW-15 in early 1965, prior to being lost in June.
His crash site was discovered in NVN in 1994 by a US team, and soon thereafter was fully excavated. A great deal of Life Support artifacts were recovered, as well as a very small amount of human remains.
Last year, in early-2006, DNA technology had sufficiently advanced to allow the re-examination of the remains, which were successful in conclusively identifying them as those of CDR Mongilardi. With this final hurdle cleared, his family (former spouse, daughter, and son) have decided to inter him at ANC in April.
Pilot, MIA in Vietnam, finally comes home: Peter Mongilardi Jr. was shot down over Vietnam
Editor's note: Raoul Mongilardi recently contacted The Advance and told us the story of his father's return home. We wanted to share it with you.......