GIERAK, GEORGE GREGORY JR. Name: George Gregory Gierak, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Heavy Photo Squadron 61, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19) Date of Birth: 25 July 1940 Home City of Record: Springfield NY Date of Loss: 13 June 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 181557N 1060659E (XF180198) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA3B Refno: 0361 Other Personnel In Incident: John T. Glanville; Bennie R. Lambton (both missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 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. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: HIT-N TRACE-FBIS SEZ DED-J SYNOPSIS: On June 13, 1966, LTCDR John Glanville, pilot; LTJG George Gierak, co-pilot; and Chief Petty Officer Bennie R. Lambton, photographic intelligenceman, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in their RA3B Skywarrior aircraft on a night low-level photo reconnaissance mission in the Ha Tinh province of North Vietnam. The flight was directed by Heavy Photographic Squadron 61, to which the crew was attached. During their mission, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and it was assumed they went down under heave fire. No communication or distress signals were received. The escort aircraft observed a bright orange flash near the mouth of the Gia Hoi River and thereafter radio contact with the aircraft had been lost. An extensive search was conducted in the immediate area, as well as over the adjacent waters by various aircraft, but results were negative. On June 15, 1966, Radio Peking stated that a photo reconnaissance jet was shot down and the crew killed in the crash. The crew escape system of this type aircraft does not provide ejection seats, and makes high speed bailout extremely difficult. Low-altitude bailout is virtually impossible. All information taken into consideration, the Commanding Officer of the squadron changed the crew's initial classification from Missing in Action to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered on June 17, 1966. The crew of the RA3B shot down on June 13, 1966 are listed with honor among the missing because no remains were found. Their cases seem quite clear. For others who are listed missing, resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived their loss incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others simply vanished without a trace. Reports continue to mount that we abandoned hundreds of Americans to the enemy when we left Southeast Asia. While the crew of the RA3B may not be among them, one can imagine their proud willingness to fly one more mission to bring in the intelligence needed to secure their rescue and flight to freedom.