TAPP, JOHN BETHEL Name: John Bethel Tapp Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 93, USS ENTERPRISE Date of Birth: 06 September 1933 Home City of Record: Harrodsburg KY Date of Loss: 23 March 1966 Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 084402N 1081904E (BK049664) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 5 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C Refno: 0287 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station on December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought with her an imposing physical presence, and impressive component of warplanes and the newest technology. By the end of her first combat cruise, her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record had not been achieved without cost. LCDR John B. Tapp was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 93 onboard the USS ENTERPRISE, and flew the Douglas Aircraft A4 Skyhawk. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size, the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and maneuverability were essential. On March 23, 1966, Tapp launched on his 64th combat mission into North Vietnam. His flight completed their attack on enemy installations with no difficulty. After regrouping just off the coast, Tapp and his wingman turned towards the ship. They turned on their external lights and visually checked one another for evidence of damage. It was determined that neither aircraft had sustained damage. At about 4:40 a.m. Tapp and his wingman were back in the vicinity of the ENTERPRISE (about 70 miles offshore in the South China Sea) and Tapp was vectored for an instrument approach, a standard practice on night landings. The approach appeared on radar to be progressing very well until he was at 8 miles inbound to the ship and disappeared from the radar scope. He should have been at 1,000 feet above the water at this point, and it was immediately deducted that he had crashed. Two helicopters and two Navy destroyers were immediately dispatched to the area and arrived on the scene in a very few minutes. The area was searched thoroughly to no avail until about an hour later when daybreak revealed an oil slick on the water and scattered wreckage. It was determined, barring physical malfunction of instruments, that Tapp misread the flight instruments, and in the very dark night inadvertently flew into the water. LCDR Tapp's remains are considered to be non-recoverable. Tapp is among nearly 2500 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The cases of some, like Tapp, seem clear - that they perished and cannot be recovered. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to secure their freedom. In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?