GRIFFITH, JOHN GARY Name: John Gary Griffith Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 35, USS ENTERPRISE Date of Birth: 10 January 1936 Home City of Record: Kansas City MO Date of Loss: 12 March 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 181258N 1074800E (YF961162) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 5 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Refno: 1082 Other Personnel in Incident: Glenn E. Kollmann (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 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: SYNOPSIS: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station on December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought with her not only an imposing physical presence, but also an impressive component of warplanes and the newest technology. By the end of her first week of combat operations, the ENTERPRISE had set a record of 165 combat sorties in a single day, surpassing the KITTY HAWK's 131. By the end of her first combat cruise, her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record had not been achieved without cost. One of the aircraft that launched from the decks of the ENTERPRISE was the Grumman A6 Intruder, a two-man all-weather, low-altitude, attack plane. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support, all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States. During the ENTERPRISE's 1968 tour, Attack Squadron 35 lost a number of Intruder aircraft. The aircraft was doing a lot of the heavy work, flying daily at night into a lot of missiles and flak. The North Vietnamese had become, in a matter of a few years, expert missile operators. It made evasion for U.S. aircraft tougher. VA 35 flew over 50 percent of the night missions the A6 community made into Hanoi. That's substantial for one squadron, and over half the squadron was lost, including the commanding officer and the executive officer. CDR Glenn E. Kollmann was an A6A pilot and the commanding officer of VA 35. He was very popular in the squadron and regarded as a capable man with a wealth of aviation experience. On March 12, 1968, he was lost to malfunction, not an enemy missile. He and his Bombardier Navigator, LT John G. Griffith, launched from the carrier. The weather was terrible, but perfect for A6 missions. There were four planes launched for a mission over North Vietnam. On the catapult launch, squadron mates listened by radio as a malfunction caused Kollmann's aircraft to ditch right off the catapult. The other aircraft continued on their mission and onboard search and rescue tried to recover the downed crew. Kollmann and Griffith were never located, due to a large degree to the weather conditions. The two were listed as killed, and because their bodies were never found, they are listed among the missing in Southeast Asia. Despite their deep personal loss, the squadron never skipped a beat. As soon as the flight Kollmann was to accompany returned to the ship, another left, and continued their regular schedule of flying 12 hours on, 12 hours off. For the Kollmann and Griffith, death seems a certainty. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace. The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for at the end of a war. Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring these men home from Southeast Asia?