CHRISTIAN, DAVID MARION
Remains Returned April 10, 1986 (See Text)
Name: David Marion Christian
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: USS MIDWAY
Date of Birth: 15 January 1941
Home City: Lane KS (family in CA)
Date of Loss: 02 June 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 194258N 1054959E (WG919815)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Thomas L. Plants (missing); William H.
Amspacher; M.D. McMican; Gerald M. Romano (remains returned); John B.
McKamey (on a second A4E, released POW).
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 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.
REMARKS: WRECK FOUND - NO SIGN SUBJ - J
SYNOPSIS: On June 2, 1965, an EA1F "Spad" electronics aircraft launched from
the USS MIDWAY for assistance in a search and rescue mission over North
Vietnam. The crew of the Spad was LTJG M.D. McMican, pilot; LTJG Gerald M.
Romano, navigation officer; Petty Officer Third Class William H. Amspacher,
Electronic Countermeasures Operator, and ATN 3 Thomas L. Plants.
While circling the scene of an [unnamed] A4E pilot's ejection over the South
China Sea, the Spad was hit by enemy fire and was observed to crash land and
burn on the nearby coast. While still over the water, a crewmember was seen
to bail out, but his parachute did not open, and he fell into the sea. A
week later, the body drifted ashore, according to an intelligence report.
This body was not recovered by U.S. forces at that time.
[NOTE: The loss location given by Defense Department is not over the South
China Sea, but some five miles inland, in Nghe An Province, near the city of
Sam Son. At best, if the loss occurred over water, it occurred in the Gulf
The crew of the Spad was placed into the category Killed In Action/Body Not
Recovered. It was assumed the three perished in the crash of the plane and
the fourth (unspecified in the report) perished just prior to the crash in
his unsuccessful ejection attempt.
On June 2, 1965, two Navy A4E aircraft were shot down in the general area
that the EA1F rescue aircraft was circling. One of them was flown off the
USS MIDWAY by LTJG David M. Christian, and is most likely to be the subject
of the search by the Spad because the accounts seem to match. Navy accounts
do not specify the identity of the downed pilot, nor do they indicate if he
was ever rescued.
David Christian was born in California, and in the early 1960's his family
moved to Kansas. Three years later, they moved back to California, but David
stayed to attend Kansas State University, then Emporia State University,
where he graduated after majoring in sociology and psychology. David learned
to fly jets in the Navy after college. In Vietnam, he was stationed aboard
the USS MIDWAY and was an A4E attack jet pilot. On June 2, 1965, Christian
left the carrier on a mission over the Tonkin Gulf on the shoreline of North
Vietnam. His commander witnessed his plane going down at sea, with David
possibly ejecting. No emergency radio beeper signals were heard, and the
pilot was not seen after he left the aircraft.
On October 11, 1965, a Pravda article referred to Christian and James
Stockdale, who was shot down and captured in the same area as Christian
three months later. The report gave the Christian family hope that David
survived and would be released.
When Christian did not return in the prisoner release in 1973, the
Christians were shocked and hurt. James Stockdale was released and was
awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions as a POW. Over the
years, the Christian family has written and called CDR Stockdale to ask
about the report, but he has never replied.
The second A4E lost on June 1, 1965 was flown by LT John B. McKamey. His
aircraft was shot down some fifty miles south of the crash location of the
EA1F. McKamey was captured by the North Vietnamese and held prisoner for the
next eight years. He was released in Operation Homecoming on February 12,
In 1986, the Vietnamese returned the remains of 21 American servicemen lost
in Vietnam, including those said to be those of David Christian. They could
not forget the Pravda article and its details about David. They had the
remains independently examined. The conclusion was that the probability is
greater that it IS David Christian than it is not. But still, there is no
proof that David died and doubts remain. Until there is proof that he died,
David's friends and family "would not be at all surprised" to see him come
home -- alive.
In July 1988, the Vietnamese returned remains they stated were those of 25
American servicemen. Three of the remains were positively identified as
being those of Amspacher, McMican and Romano. Plants' remains were not
recovered. It is not known if the body which was reported washed ashore
could have been Plants' or that of David Christian.
A Vietnamese defector stated in Congressional testimony that Vietnam
stockpiles hundreds of sets of remains. Congress believed him. He also
testified that Vietnam holds live American prisoners. Congress says he is
lying, although over 10,000 reports help substantiate that Americans are
being held alive. The U.S. and Vietnamese "progress" at a snail's pace,
while totally ignoring the tremendous weight of evidence that their priority
should be those Americans still alive as captives. Meanwhile, thousands of
lives are spent in the most tortured state imaginable - unable to grieve,
unable to rejoice. They wait.