Name: Terry Mercer Geloneck
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, pilot
Unit: 307th Strat Wing, Anderson Air Base, GUAM
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Decatur AL
Date of Loss: 20 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210500N 1054000E (WJ692313)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52G
Missions: 91

Other Personnel In Incident: William Y. Arcuri; Roy Madden Jr.; Michael R.
Martini (all released POWs); Craig A. Paul; Warren R. Spencer (both remains

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, including
"Linebacker" by Karl J. Eschmann. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2023.


SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war, known as Linebacker II, in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs
were dropped, primarily over military targets in the area between Hanoi and
Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing
would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally
recognized cease-fire was in force.

The Christmas Bombings were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots
involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes
against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S.
"could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy
Scout troop in Hanoi and marching it southward."

The operation had its costs, however, in loss of aircraft and personnel.
During the month of December 1972, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot
down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in
1973. The remains of roughly a dozen more have been returned over the years,
and the rest are still missing. At least 10 those missing survived to eject
safely. Yet they did not return at the end of the war.

On December 20, 1972, three B52 aircraft -- Quilt Cell -- departed Anderson
Air Base, Guam for a bombing mission over Hanoi. One of the aircraft was
flown by Capt. Terry M. Geloneck. The crew consisted of 1Lt. William Y.
Arcuri, co-pilot; Capt. Craig A. Paul, Electronic Warfare Officer; Capt.
Warren R. Spencer, the radar navigator; 1LT Michael R. Martini, navigator;
and SSgt. Roy Madden, the gunner.

Approaching the initial point where the bombing run was to begin, the EWO
(Paul) reported SAM signals. The aircraft instituted evasive maneuvers while
calmly running through their checklist in preparation of releasing the
twenty-seven 750-pound bomb load.

About 30 seconds to target, three or four SAMs were sighted. The crew could
do nothing but watch their progress until the "bombs away" was called and
evasive action could be taken. After releasing the bomb load, the aircraft
had been in a hard turn about 10 seconds when the loud metallic bank of an
exploding SAM hit them, accompanied by a bright white flash. The aircraft
was still airborne and in its post-target turn.

Martini reported that he, Arcuri and Spencer were okay, but that they had
sustained a fuel leak in the left main fuel tank, and that cabin
pressurization was lost. Paul had been hit and was bleeding heavily. There
were four six-inch holes in the fuselage next to Madden, and his leg was

As the aircraft began losing altitude, the crew prepared for bailout.
Geloneck, Arcuri, Martini and Madden successfully ejected from the aircraft
and were captured immediately. It is not known whether Spencer and Paul

When they were released in mid-February, 1973, Madden, Martini, Arcuri and
Geloneck were all injured; Madden's leg was still in dangerous condition,
and he was brought home on a litter. The leg was later amputated. The
Vietnamese returned the remains of Paul and Spencer on September 30, 1977,
despite earlier protestations that they knew nothing about the two.

One thing that amazed analysts about the B52 bombers that were shot down
over Hanoi during this period was the high survival rate of the crewmembers.
Many more were returned as POWs than was expected. The B52s that were shot
down were downed in extremely hostile territory with little or no chance of
rescue. However, they were fortunate to be captured during a period in which
little or no harassment and torture was being experienced by American POWs.
In fact, the Vietnamese were "fattening them up" for their imminent release.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that all the prisoners were returned in
1973 at the end of the war. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports
have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans still alive
in captivity. U.S. experts have stated they believe Americans are still
being held prisoner in Southeast Asia. The question is no longer whether any
are alive, but who are they, and how can we bring them home?


Terry Geloncek retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
and his wife Jane reside in Alabama.