WILKINS, GEORGE HENRY
REMAINS RETURNED 10/30/96

NAVY CMDR. GEROGE H. WILKINS OF GOLDSBORO, N.C. -  LOST JULY 11, 1966,
NORTH VIETNAM.  "IN 1989, THE SRV REPATRIATED REMAINS BELIEVED TO BE
THOSE OF A NUMBER OF U.S. SERVICEMEN LOST IN VIETNAM.  THREE U.S.-SRV
JOIN INVESTIGATIONS GATHERED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND CRASH
DEBRIS WHICH AIDED IN THE IDENTIFICATION.  MITOCHONDRIAL DNA TESTING
WAS USED TO CONFIRM THE IDENTIFICATION." POW/MIA DEFENSE WEEKLY

Name: George Henry Wilkins
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 153, USS CONSTELLATION (CVA 64)
Date of Birth: 14 July 1931 (Angler NC)
Home City of Record: Goldsboro NC
Date of Loss: 11 July 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 185200N 1053700E (WF649860)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C
Refno: 0391

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 1998.

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: The USS CONSTELLATION provided air power to the U.S. effort in
Vietnam early in the war, having participated in strikes against Loc Chao
and Hon Gai in North Vietnam during August 1964. One of the first American
POWs of the war, and certainly one of the most well-known, LTJG Everett
Alverez, launched from her decks and was captured during this series of
strikes in 1964. The CONSTELLATION was large and carried a full range of
aircraft. Fighters from her air wing, CVW-14, earned the carrier the
Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1968 during a particularly intense period
of air attacks. VF-96, a premier fighter squadron awarded the Clifton Trophy
two straight years, flew from the CONSTELLATION in October 1971. During this
period, two of her pilots, LT Randall H. Cunningham and LTJG William
"Willie" Driscoll became the first American aces of the Vietnam War, having
shot down five Russian-made MiG enemy aircraft. The CONSTELLATION remained
on station throughout most of the war.

One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the USS CONSTELLATION was the
Douglas Douglas Aircraft A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was produced to provide the
Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground
support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability
during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch
and carrier landings. 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.

LTCDR George H. Wilkins was a Skyhawk pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 153
onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. On July 11, 1966, Wilkins launched in his A4C
aircraft on a mission over North Vietnam. He was assigned to drop flares to
illuminate roads in the search for a truck convoy. Wilkins had been briefed
to make an identification pass under the flares after ignition.

Shortly after Wilkins called "flares away," LT Patz, his wingman, observed a
long trail of fire on the ground under the flares which came to rest in what
appeared to be two separate pieces of debris. No other transmissions were
heard by LT Patz although it is known that LTCDR Wilkins was equipped with
adequate signaling devices. Moderate 37mm anti-aircraft fire was observed in
the area. The crash site was located about 12 miles north of the city of
Vinh in Nghe An Province, North Vietnam.

No wreckage was sighted during a daytime search nor were any electronic
signals received. It was believed that LTCDR Wilkins' aircraft was shot down
by enemy fire and that he did not survive the shoot down. However, there
still existed the possibility that Wilkins successfully bailed out of his
aircraft, for he was listed Missing in Action rather than Killed.

For 24 years, the Vietnamese have denied knowledge of the fate of George H.
Wilkins, even though the U.S. believes there is a good possibility he was
captured and died in captivity. On June 28, 1974, the Department of the Navy
declared George Wilkins dead, based on no specific information he was still
alive.

Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous
times. Could Wilkins be 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. Could
Wilkins be 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.