Name: Michael Sargent Bixel
Branch/Rank: United States Navy/O2
Date of Birth: 23 June 1947
Home City of Record: FORT WALTON BEACH FL
Date of Loss: 24 October 1972
Country of Loss:  North Vietnam Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 260212 North 1101801 East
Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A
Other Personnel in Incident: Bruce Kallsen, survivor
Refno: 2019

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: Dave
Anderson, raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File.  2020




From - Tue Jul 14 07:11:12 1998

I was a veteran of the air war over North Viet Nam and took an interest in
the POW NET biographies page of your site.  I noted the lack of information
for Mike Bixel and thought I would pass along what I remember and you can
decide if it is useful.

I was acquainted with a number of officers at Naval Air Station Whidbey
Island who manned the A-6A squadrons deployed on Pacific Fleet carriers.  I
deployed with Attack Squadron ONE FOUR FIVE (VA-145) on the USS RANGER just
prior to the start of LINEBACKER II.  I knew, for a time, several men on
the POW/MIA list; Fred Holmes, Harry Mossman, Rod Lester, and Bob Randall.
I lived across the street from Robert (Al) Clark who was lost just weeks
before the cease fire.  He left behind a son that he never saw.  It is
known by many in Naval Aviation that Al had a distant connection with the
basis for the opening scene in the movie, "Flight of the Intruder."  Al's
pilot on the night they were shot down was Mike McCormick.  Several months
before being lost, Mike had flown a mission with LCDR Ray Donnelly.  Ray
died from a round from a large automatic weapon that struck the cockpit and
hit him.   Mike brought him back to the USS MIDWAY for what must have been
the hardest night landing in Naval Aviation history.

Also in that same squadron (VA-115 on USS MIDWAY) was Mike Bixel.  Mike and
I trained together at Whidbey Island before deploying.  Mike was lost
during a night carrier landing accident on the USS Midway.  His pilot was
Bruce Kallsen who survived the accident.  It was a horrible accident in
which several men died on the carrier deck from the crash and the
subsequent fire.  Bruce and Mike had landed in a sideslip which sheared off
one of the main landing gear of the A-6A when it touched down on the deck.
The plane continued up the axial deck to impact the planes parked on the
bow.  Mike ejected just prior to hitting the parked planes.  The pure
heroism of the flight deck crew in quickly putting out the fire limited
damage to the ship and saved lives.  Mike was not seen after the ejection.
It is uncertain if his parachute had time to open.  Most agreed that Mike
had time to make a safe entry into the water.  The search for Mike and
others who may have gone into the water was unsuccessful.  Mike Bixel was a
fine shipmate and excellent officer who deserves to be remembered.
Sometimes it seems that the absolute best amongst us didn't come home.

Dave Anderson
July 1998




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Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael Sargent Bixel entered the U.S. Navy from Florida and was a member of Attack Squadron 115, embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA 41). On October 25, 1972, he was the bombardier/navigator on an A-6A Intruder (bureau number unknown) on a single-plane "seeding" mission over North Vietnam. Following the mission and while attempting to land on the carrier, an unknown mechanical failure caused the plane to crash into another aircraft parked on the flight deck. Lieutenant Junior Grade Bixel either ejected himself from the aircraft or the ejection seat fired itself during the crash landing, sending him over the side of the ship and into the water, in the vicinity of (GC) 49Q DU 300 800. An air and sea search effort was launched immediately, but could not recover LTJG Bixel. He remains unaccounted for. Today, Lieutenant Junior Grade Bixel is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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