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Name: Thomas Gardner Derrickson II
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay ABSV
Date of Birth: 10 March 1936
Home City of Record: Los Altos CA
Date of Loss: 12 October 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171600N 1064100E (XE795087)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Refno:  0859
Other Personnel in Incident: John K. Hardy, Jr. (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 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: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
planes around.

Capt. Thomas G. Derrickson II and 1Lt. John K. Hardy Jr. comprised the crew
of an F4C Phantom jet assigned an armed reconnaissance mission over North
Vietnam on October 12, 1967. Derrickson and Hardy were in the lead aircraft
in a flight of two. Over Quang Binh Province, they sighted ground targets
and radioed to their wingman that they were "rolling in." Shortly
thereafter, the wingman saw a flash of yellow light followed by a fire and a
cloud of black smoke. Attempts to contact Derrickson and Hardy were

Derrickson had graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959, so was a
seasoned pilot. Hardy, who had begun training after graduation from the
University of Southern California, was a less experienced pilot, but both
were trained in the Phantom.

According to the Hardy family, many efforts were made to obtain information
concerning what happened to Hardy and Derrickson that day with no success.
It is known that their last known location was about 15 miles south of the
city of Dong Hoi, some 25 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone in North
Vietnam. Anti-aircraft resistance was heavy in this region.

Both men were declared Missing in Action, and the U.S. believed the enemy
probably knew their fates. When the war ended, and 591 Americans were
released in Operation Homecoming in 1973, military experts expressed their
dismay that "some hundreds" of POWs did not come home with them. Since that
time, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government,
forcing many authorities to conclude that many Americans are still being
held against their will in Southeast Asia. Whether Derrickson and Hardy are
among them is not known. What is certain, however, is that if only one
American remains alive in enemy hands, we owe him our best effort to bring
him home.

Thomas G. Derrickson II graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959.
He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained
missing. John K. Hardy, Jr. graduated from the University of Southern




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On October 12, 1967, an F-4C Phantom II (tail number 67-710) took off from Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, South Vietnam, on a two-plane armed reconnaissance mission to targets south of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. During the mission, they observed a light on a highway below and interpreted it as an enemy vehicle. This Phantom's crew radioed their wingman to depart the immediate target area and then moved into position to attack the target. The wingman continued north toward Dong Hoi as this Phantom called in, "rolling in, target in sight." As the plane descended towards the target, it received enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed. The two crew members were not recovered.

Captain Thomas Gardner Derrickson II entered the U.S. Air Force from California and was a member of the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was the aircraft commander aboard this Phantom and was lost with the aircraft. His remains were not recovered. Following the incident, the Air Force promoted Capt Derrickson to the rank of Colonel (Col). Today, Colonel Derrickson 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 Active Pursuit.

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