VAVROCH, DUANE PAUL Name: Duane Paul Vavroch Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 307th Bomb Wing Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Tama IA Date of Loss: 26 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210200N 1055000E (WJ918166) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D Other Personnel in Incident: Robert M. Hudson; Michael H. LaBeau; James R. Cook; (all released POWs); Robert J. Morris Jr.; Nutter J. Wimbrow III (both remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 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. REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings", 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward." To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick to a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictible B52 strikes were anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however, flight paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile threat from the ground. However, the bombings were not conducted without exceedingly high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December 1972, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in 1973. The others remained missing at the end of the war. Over half of these survived to eject safely. What happened to them? One B52D aircraft flown by Capt. Robert J. Morris, Jr. was shot down near Hanoi on December 26, 1972. The crew onboard included Capt. Michael H. LaBeau; Capt. Nutter J. Wimbrow III; 1LT Robert M. Hudson; 1LT Duane P. Vavroch; and SGT James R. Cook. The pilot gave the bail-out order and the crew of the aircraft parachuted to safety. LaBeau, Vavroch, Hudson and Cook were captured by the North Vietnamese almost immediately. Cook had been badly injured. These four spent the next six weeks as "guests" in the Hanoi prison system. Ultimately, they were released in Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973 -- four very lucky airmen. Hanoi denied any knowledge of the pilot, Robert J. Morris or his crew member, Nutter J. Wimbrow III. Then, in late September 1977, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Morris and Wimbrow and returned them to U.S. control. For four years, the Vietnamese denied knowledge of the fate of Morris and Wimbrow, even though the U.S. believed there was a good possibility the two were captured. Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese "stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous times. Were Morris and Wimbrow waiting in a casket for just such a moment? Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S. relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Were Morris and Wimbrow among these? Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive. As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO DUANE P. VAVROCH First Lieutenant - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 26, 1972 Released: March 29, 1973 My life started in July 1947 on a farm near Tama, lowa. This rural farm community was my home until I enrolled at the University of lowa in Industrial Engineering. Engineering and the University were to be my way of life for the next five years. Arnold Air Society, an Air Force ROTC society, and Theta Tau, an engineering fraternity, were to be my main interests until meeting Mary, my wife-to-be. We were married in June 1969 before I finished my last year of college. Spring of 1970 brought the anti-war riots, a cancellation of classes, and an early commission in the Air Force. At this time some of my compatriots had already been POWs more than five years. In July 1970 my Air Force career began at Mather AFB, California in Undergraduate Navigator Training and Navigator Bombadier Training. I left Mather in October of 1971 with my wife and two little girls, Stephanie and Dana for assignment to Kincheloe AFB, Michigan in a B-52H. After four months of Combat Crew Training, Kincheloe was to be my first chance to see the real Air Force. We arrived in March in a blizzard, ten feet of snow, and summer on the way. We had a beautiful summer and fail at Kincheloe between alert tours and night flights. In November our crew, Kin E-21, left for six months of ARC Light never to return as a full crew. On our fifth combat flight over SEA our plane was shot down over Hanoi in the "Eleven Day War." Four of the crew were to end up as POWs and I was fortunate to be one of the four. The pilot and the electronic warfare officer were not that fortunate. Due to the "Old Guys" my life as a POW was not the hardship it could have been. Their beliefs in honor and patriotism, after all those years, were an inspiration to me. Just hearing what they had been through and how they managed, gave me confidence and direction. l knew that some day I would be free, not for what I had done, but what others had done for me. To Iowans Care, The National League of Families, Voices in Vital American, and Project Homecoming - Thank you for my freedom.
Duanne Vavroch lives in Iowa.