CHAPMAN, RODNEY MAX
Name: Rodney Max Chapman
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Helicopter Squadron 10, USS CORAL SEA (CVA 43)
Date of Birth: 26 February 1935
Home City of Record: Alpena MI
Date of Loss: 18 February 1969
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 175647N 1071754E (YE434856)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Stanley M. Jerome; Eddie R. Schimmels (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.
SYNOPSIS: LTCDR Rodney M. Chapman was a pilot assigned to Helicopter
Squadron 10 onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On February 18,
1969, Chapman's aircraft was acting as the recovery tanker aircraft,
prepared to render valuable assistance to other aircraft returning to the
ship with very little fuel. This was an extremely important job, as some
types of fighter aircraft launched with a minimum amount of fuel in order to
accomodate a heavier bomb load, and sometimes arrived back at ship low on
fuel. This was Chapman's 90th flight mission in Vietnam. Chapman's crew
included Petty Officers Stanley M. Jerome and Eddie R. Schimmels.
As the aircraft immediately ahead of Chapman's was landing, he advised that
his approach would be from overhead the ship, proceeding away from the ship
a short distance while descending, then turning toward the ship for a
precision radar control landing. Chapman's approach was being monitored on
radar. There was a two-way conversation between Chapman and the radar
operator. Chapman descended from overhead the ship and flew outbound as
instructed. He was then told to turn toward the ship. He failed to
acknowledge this radio transmission. A second attempt was made to contact
him which failed. About this time, Chapman's aircraft disappeared from the
radar and further attempts to regain contact were of no avail.
Within minutes of his disappearance the CORAL SEA airborne helicopter was
sent to the area approximately ten miles behind the ship and ordered to
commence a search. Shortly thereafter, one of the CORAL SEA's escorting
destroyers was also dispatched to assist in the search. The destroyer and
the helicopter were unable to locate either the aircraft or its crewmen. An
organized search continued throughout the night by three more ships and
additional aircraft, both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
The following day at first light, an even more intensive search by ships and
aircraft was conducted. These combined units searched extensively over an
area of over 1,000 miles with no results. It was concluded that the airplane
crashed and the crew of the KA3 were lost at sea.
The three-man crew were listed as killed, body not recovered. They are among
over 2300 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The
cases of some, like Chapman, Jerome and Schimmels seem clear - that they
perished and cannot be recovered. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates
that hundreds of Americans are still captive, waiting for the country they
proudly served to secure their freedom.
In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of
our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign
their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?