SMITH, GENE ALBERT Remains Returned December 1988 Name: Gene Albert Smith Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 155, USS CONSTELLATION (CVA-64) Date of Birth: 18 April 1933 Home City of Record: Salt Lake City UT Date of Loss: 27 June 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 192000N 1054800E (WG831505) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Refno: 0375 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 1998. Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Commander Gene Smith was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 155 onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. On June 27, 1966, LtCdr. Smith was flying the number three aircraft in a flight of four A4 "Skyhawk" aircraft in an attack against numerous large barges in North Vietnam. The division rolled in with about a 5 second interval between aircraft. The pilots made an attack on a different barge. After the leader made his attack and started to turn right and then left, he observed a large fireball on the ground similar to napalm. It was about 1/2 mile west of the canal in which the barges were located. One of the other pilots stated that he did not have LtCdr. Smith in sight. They initiated a radio check, but Smith did not respond. The remaining flight made two circles of the fire and observed a large hole in the ground near some houses. There appeared to be light gray or white pieces of metal scattered in the vicinity of the hole. No parachute was seen, nor was any radio transmission heard. Rescue combat air patrol aircraft conducted an airborne search of the crash area for two hours, but could pick up no trace of LtCdr. Smith. Because his aircraft was not observed from the time he commenced his attack run until it hit the ground, it was the belief of the other pilots that his aircraft was probably hit by enemy fire and crashed. Gene Smith was placed in Missing In Action status. In December 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Gene Smith and returned them to U.S. control. Smith had been promoted to the rank of Commander while he was missing. For 22 years, the Vietnamese denied any knowledge of Gene Smith or his whereabouts. They also deny knowledge of any others among the nearly 2500 still missing, even though some were known to have been held alive as POWs. By mid-1989 nearly 10,000 reports regarding missing Americans have been received by the U.S. Government which convince many experts that hundreds of our fellow countrymen are still alive in Southeast Asia. Whether Commander Smith was able to eject from his crippled aircraft just before it crashed near those houses on June 27, 1966, or whether he died in the crash is unknown. What is known is that there are Americans who continue to survive in prison camps in Southeast Asia today. Whatever their numbers and identities, they are entitled to the basic human right America is founded on - freedom.