PIKE, DENNIS STANLEY
Name: Dennis Stanley Pike
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 192, USS KITTY HAWK
Date of Birth: 02 July 1940
Home City of Record: Bagdad AZ
Date of Loss: 23 March 1972
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 152200N 1073400E (YC755030)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled 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 in 2018.
SYNOPSIS: The USS KITTY HAWK was on duty in Vietnam as early as 1964 and had
131 combat sorties to its credit by the end of 1965, and many more through
the remaining years of the Vietnam war. The KITTY HAWK was one of the
Forrestal-class "super" carriers, and could operate up to ninety aircraft
from her angled deck.
One of the aircraft launched from the deck of the KITTY HAWK was the Vaught
A7E Corsair II, a single-seat attack jet utilized by both the Navy and Air
Force in Vietnam. The aircraft was designed to meet the Navy's need for a
subsonic attack plane able to carry a greater load of non-nuclear weapons
that the A4 Skyhawk. The aircraft's unique design completely freed the
wingspace for bomb loading; the Pratt and Whitney jet engine was beneath the
fuselage of the aircraft. The Corsair was used primarily for close air
support and interdiction, although it was also used for reconnaissance. A
Corsair is credited with flying the last official combat mission in the war
- bombing a target in Cambodia on 15 August 1973.
LT Dennis S. Pike was an Corsair assigned to Attack Squadron 192 onboard the
KITTY HAWK in the spring of 1972. On 23 March, Pike and other aircraft from
the squadron were assigned a mission near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in
Vietnam. Pike did not return from the mission.
CDR Robert Taylor was the commanding officer of the KITTY HAWK based Attack
Squadron 192 and recalls the March 23 mission:
"We were on a mission just south of the DMZ," remembers Taylor. Government
forces were being overrun by the Viet Cong, and a T-28 with an American
pilot and Vietnamese observer also went down. We were on target about forty
minutes and finally had to leave. I watched Pike disappear on the way out,
and that scene, those ten or fifteen seconds, are embedded in my mind, lived
over and over. I was about a mile-and-a-half behind him, saw the smoke come
out of his tailpipe and called him up asking if there were any problems. He
replied, 'Yeah, I've got some oil pressure problems.' We were only about
twenty miles inside of Laos, and I told him to take a heading toward Da
Nang. He rolled out and made the turn from southwest all the way around to
the east at five thousand feet. I told him, 'If you pass three thousand feet
and don't have anything left, then [get] out.' He replied, 'Roger that,'
followed by an 'Uh oh, there goes the engine. Well, see you guys later.'"
Pike indicated that he had to eject.
Taylor saw the canopy shatter and a black object came out. Taylor and his
wingman saw the ejection, but lost visual contact. Taylor is certain that
something left the airplane.
Four days prior to Denny Pike's aircraft failing, another A7 had failed, but
just after it had launched from the carrier. The pilot was recovered. There
were questions at that time as to whether to ground the aircraft, but it was
kept in the air.
After Pike's aircraft failed, the A7 was grounded. But the North Vietnamese
were staging an invasion on the south, and to ground the A7 meant to
essentially ground the entire strike force, and there was uncertainty as to
the exact cause of the two A7 accidents. It was finally concluded that the
engine problems had been caused by foreign object damage and the A7 was
airborne once more.
Of 600 American servicemen lost in Laos during our military involvement in
Southeast Asia, not one was released when the war ended. The Pathet Lao
insisted that Americans held in Laos would be released from Laos, but the
U.S. did not include them in peace agreements reached in Paris in 1973.
Since the war ended in 1973, thousands of reports relating to Americans
prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by
the U.S. Government. The official policy is that no conclusive proof has
been obtained that is current or specific enough to act upon. Detractors of
this policy say conclusive proof is in hand, but that the willingness or
ability to rescue these prisoners does not exist.
Men like Dennis Pike went to Southeast Asia because they were asked to do so
by the country they loved and served. That country, in turn, has a legal and
moral obligation to bring them home--alive.
NASL remembers POWs, MIAs at ceremony Hanford Sentinel
A synopsis of Pike's final moments in the jet is recorded on the P.O.W. Network's Web page.
“Uh oh, there goes the engine. Well, see you guys later,” Pike ...
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