YUILL, JOHN HARRY
Name: John Harry Yuill Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force, pilot [Blue 1] Unit: 307th Strat Wing Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Boswell IN Date of Loss: 22 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210125N 1055100E (WJ880210) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B52
Other Personnel in Incident: Gary L. Morgan; William T. Mayall; David I. Drummond; William W. Conlee; Louis H. Bernasconi (all released POWs). Only B-52 crew recovered intact and alive.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 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 2002.
REMARKS: RELSD 730329 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.
Linebacker II flights generally arrived over Hanoi in tight cells of three aircraft to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on the military targets and not in civilian areas.
The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. 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 predictable 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.
Still, aircraft were shot down near the end of the campaign. On December 22, 1972, a B52 was shot down near Hanoi. Its crew included LTCOL John H. Yuill, LTCOL Louis H. Bernasconi, LTCOL William W. Conlee, CAPT David I. Drummond, 1LT William T. Mayall, and TSGT Gary L. Morgan. This crew was exceptionally fortunate--they were all were captured by the North Vietnamese. The captured crew was held in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, at which time they were released in Operation Homecoming. The U.S. did not know all of them had been captured.
Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapoa Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with over one thousand men flying the missions. However, the bombings were not conducted without high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December 1972, 61 crewmembers onboard ten B52 aircraft were shot down and were captured or declared missing. (The B52 carried a crew of six men; however, one B52 lost carried an extra crewman.) Of these 61, 33 men were released in 1973. The others remained missing at the end of the war. Over half of these survived to eject safely.
Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The crew of the B52 shot down on December 22 was lucky to have survived and only have a few weeks imprisonment. Many authorities are now convinced that many Americans are still held captive in Southeast Asia. It's time we found them and brought them home.
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 EDITED November 1996 by request of Lt. Col. John Yuill (RET).
JOHN H. YUILL Lieutenant Colonel - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 22, 1972 Released: March 29, 1973
I was born and grew up in Boswell, Indiana. I was the oldest of six children. After completing high school at Boswell, I acquired a junior accounting degree from Indiana Business College in Lafayette, Indiana. I enlisted in the Air Force in February 1954, completed navigator training, and was commissioned in April 1955. I was a navigator in the 1708 Ferrying Group at McClellan AFB, California from April 1955 until February 1958. I then attended pilot training and graduated in June 1959.
My next assignment was F-86's at Perrin AFB, Texas. I then flew B-52's at Altus AFB, Oklahoma from July 1960 until December 1966. My job positions were copilot, pilot and instructor pilot. I flew F-102's at Perrin for a short time before going to Grissom AFB, Indiana to fly the B-58 "Hustler." This enjoyable assignment lasted from March 1967 until February 1970. During this time I flew as a pilot and C.C.T.S. instructor pilot. Next assignment was to C.C.K., Taiwan for a tour in C-130's as a pilot and instructor pilot. This was from May 1970 to July 1971 and most of this time was spent flying out of Saigon, South Vietnam. I then went to Carswell AFB, Texas and B-52's once again. I left Carswell TDY for Guam and Thailand in April 1972 flying missions over Vietnam. Remained TDY, except for the month of October, until I was shot down.
My wife, Rose, was a Canadian R.N. working in Sacramento, California. I met her in 1955 and we were married in April 1956. We have seven children: Suzi, Kathy, Ricky, Mike, Denise, Dianne, Stefani. My mother, who lived in Fowler, Indiana died in 1966. My father died in 1969.
[NOTE: John states his mother passed away in 1996 - NOT 1966]
My crew was B-52 wave leader the first night (December 18, 1972) of Linebacker II. We were also wave leader the following night. We were flying our third mission over Hanoi in four days when we were shot down. We were the only B-52 crew shot down over Hanoi that was recovered intact. All crew members suffered minor injuries but no major ones. We were the only crew from Carswell AFB shot down, and we had three Lt. Colonel crew members, which was unusual. Our captors became very excited when they realized they had captured an entire B-52 crew intact, especially with so many Lt. Colonels on it. We were heavily interrogated as a result. I was threatened many times that my crew would be a "show case" crew and tried as war criminals.
I was a prisoner only for a short period of time. I did receive humane treatment and as a result of these two facts, I feel there is no way to compare myself to those "real" POWs who were prisoners for many years. The POW story is theirs to tell, not mine. I am honored to be associated with these men. I cannot say enough about their courage, faith and leadership. I will say that my short stay in Hanoi reaffirmed my faith in God, friends, and country. They all performed magnificently!
My son Mike, became a A/F pilot, and flew B-52's. In 1991, at Randolph AFB, I had my Freedom Flight: I flew #3 with my son flying #4. In 1996 he was a B-1 pilot.
John Yuill retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel in April 1979. He and his wife Rose reside in Texas.