DOYLE, MICHAEL "Mike" WILLIAM
Remains Returned 14 August 1985
Name: Michael William Doyle
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 161, USS MIDWAY
Date of Birth: 13 February 1943 (New Orleans LA)
Home City of Record: Philadelphia PA
Date of Loss: 25 August 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204231N 1062731E (XH512875)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Other Personnel in Incident: John C. Ensch (Released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 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 Michael W. Doyle was a pilot assigned to Fighter Squadron
161 onboard the aircraft carrier USS MIDWAY. On August 25, 1972 he launched
with his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), Lt. John C. Ensch, in their F4B
Phantom fighter aircraft. Their mission was a MiG Combat Air Patrol over
At approximately 24 miles southwest of Haiphong the aircraft was hit by a
surface-to-air missile (SAM). Doyle and Ensch ejected immediately and were
sighted by their wingman on descent. An emergency radio beeper was heard for
approximately 10 seconds. Search and rescue efforts were initiated without
success, and were terminated two days later.
The U.S. received information quickly that John Ensch had been captured.
Although Doyle was at first listed Missing in Action, he, too, was
ultimately listed as Prisoner of War.
John Ensch was released in Operation Homecoming in 1973. Mike Doyle was not.
Ensch had suffered a broken left arm and hand which had been poorly set,
leaving him disfigured and disabled. Several returning POWs had information
relating to Doyle. Doyle's flight helmet had been seen with a pile of gear
at the "Hanoi Hilton" prisoner of war complex in Hanoi. Also, Doyle's name
was scratched on a pre-interrogation cell wall in the complex.
The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of Michael Doyle. However, in July 1985,
the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Mike Doyle and returned them to
U.S. control. Doyle had been missing for 13 years.
Nearly 2500 Americans did not return from the war in Vietnam. Thousands of
reports have been received indicating that some hundreds remain alive in
captivity. As in the case of William Doyle, Vietnam and her communist allies
can account for most of them. Current "negotiations" between the U.S. and
Vietnam have yielded the remains of nearly 300 Americans -- remains which
should have been returned decades ago.
In the total view of the issue of the missing, however, the return of
remains signals no progress. In the early 1980's the very credible
Congressional testimony of a Vietnamese mortician indicated that the
Vietnamese are in possession of over 400 sets of remains. In 15 years, they
have returned barely half that number. More importantly, the same credible
witness, whose testimony regarding remains is believed throughout Congress,
stated that he had seen live Americans held at the same location where the
remains were stored. The testimony regarding live Americans is not
As long as even one American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia,
the only issue is that one living man. We must bring them home before there
are only remains to negotiate for.
Michael William Doyle was promoted to the rank of Commander during the
period he was prisoner of war.