FEGAN, RONALD JAMES
Name: Ronald James Fegan
Rank/Branch: O1/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 96, USS Ranger (CVA-61)
Date of Birth: 11 February 1941 (New York NY)
Home City of Record: Brockport NY
Date of Loss: 09 April 1965
Country of Loss: China/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 091801N 1082604E (BL182290)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Terence M. Murphy (missing)
Source: Compiled 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. NETWORK in 2020.
REMARKS: CRASH AT SEA AFT COMBAT - J
SYNOPSIS: Ltjg. Terence M. Murphy was a pilot assigned to Fighter Squadron
96 onboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger in the Gulf of Tonkin. On April
9, 1965, he launched with his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Ensign Ronald J.
Fegan in their F4B Phantom fighter jet. They were to fly a Combat Air Patrol
mission over the Gulf of Tonkin.
Ltjg. Murphy and other mission aircraft engaged enemy aircraft at
approximately 8:40 a.m. some 25 miles from the nearest land. After breaking
off the engagement, Ltjg. Murphy's aircraft did not check in with the flight
leader and was neither seen or heard from again. An aerial and surface
search of the area turned up no evidence of a plane crash, seat ejection or
emergency radio beacon. Search and rescue efforts covered an area of 2000
square miles utilizing aircraft from three carriers, destroyers and a
submarine. The search was terminated on April 11 with negative results.
It was later discovered the the MIG aircraft that were engaged were not
Vietnamese, but Chinese. The incident took place near the Chinese island of
Hainan. Peking Radio stated later that day that eight U.S. military planes
had intruded over the areas of Aihsien, Paisha and Changkan of China's
Hainan Island. They further stated that Chinese planes immediately took off
to engage them and that a U.S. aircraft had been shot down by other U.S.
planes. Careful investigation revealed no basis of fact to support this
Both crewmen were listed in a status of Missing In Action. This status was
changed three weeks later to Determined Dead/Body Not Recovered.
With absence of evidence, it cannot be known with certainty that Fegan and
Murphy went down with their aircraft on April 9, 1965. If, by some chance,
they bailed out successfully and were captured by military or civilian
Chinese, we will probably never know it. History has shown that Americans
disappearing in Chinese territory never come out. Several hundred Americans
were known to have been captured and held by the Chinese from the Korean
war, never to be seen again. Critics point to a lack of resolve to raise
this sticky issue with the Chinese on the part of the U.S., while the U.S.
asserts that it is doing all it can to determine the fates of those men as
well as that of Ronald Fegan and Terence Murphy.