AUSTIN, ELLIS ERNEST Name: Ellis Ernest Austin Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 85, USS KITTY HAWK Date of Birth: 06 January 1922 Home City of Record: Vermontville MI Date of Loss: 21 April 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 184900N 1054200E (WF754824) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Refno: 0309 Other Personnel In Incident: Jack E. Keller (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: POSS DEAD/ IR 1516031772 SYNOPSIS: On April 22, 1966, a two-plane flight of A6A aircraft left the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk to strike a coastal target near the mouth of an inland waterway in North Vietnam. The target, an enemy supply area, was heavily defended by anti-aircraft artillary, automatic weapons and small arms. During the flight, the wingman broke away to investigate a barge, and notified Cdr. Jack E. Keller, the pilot of the other A6A, that he was having an ordinance malfunction and was proceeding to Hon Mat Island, less than 15 miles away, so that he could dump the remainder of his bombload safely. While the wingman was discharging his bombload, he heard a missile warning, but had no knowledge that a missile had been fired. Keller conducted a radio check with both his wingman and the E2 Command and Control aircraft to confirm that the E2 held them on radar. The wingman advised Keller that he would hold clear of the target and wait for Keller to finish his bombing run. Keller acknowledged. Keller and his backseater, Ellis Austin, continued on their run. That was the last anyone heard from Keller and Austin. The wingman later stated that he saw a bright flash as he was heading away from the beach which he assumed to be a bomb explosion. Both he and the E2 tried to contact Keller and his backseater, but were unsuccessful. The E2 had lost Keller from radar. An aerial search was conducted immediately with no visual or radio signals received by any of the search aircraft. Both men were carried in MIA status until June 1974, when their status was changed to killed under a presumptive finding of death. Austin was a 25-year career Navy officer, and had only two weeks left before he was scheduled to return home to his wife and three children. Nearly 10,000 reports of Americans relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received since the end of the war. Many officials who have reviewed this largely classified material have reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity. Whether Austin and Keller could be among them is unknown. But what is certain is that many are still alive, waiting for their country to bring them home. Austin and Keller, if dead, rests in enemy soil. If alive, what must they be thinking of us?