HACKETT, HARLEY BENJAMIN III
Name: Harley Benjamin Hackett III Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH Date of Birth: 23 October 1942 Home City of Record: Florence SC Date of Loss: 24 July 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam - Over Water Loss Coordinates: 174400N 1064400E (XE747760) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1235 Other Personnel In Incident: John R. Bush (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 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 2001 with information provided by Maj. Bob Hipps, USAF (Ret).
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Harley B. Hackett III and 1Lt. John R. Bush, were assigned to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. On July 24, 1968, they comprised the crew of an F4D Phantom fighter jet sent on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Hackett was the pilot of the aircraft and Bush was his navigator. Their aircraft was number two in a flight of two.
During the mission, the lead aircraft was struck by enemy fire, and Hackett vectored the lead aircraft over water where the crew of the lead aircraft ejected and were recovered. The crew of a naval aircraft in the vicinity saw a second aircraft crash which was believed to be the number two aircraft (with Hackett and Bush onboard). No parachutes were seen and no emergency radio beeper signals were heard. Still, there was the possibility that the crew safely ejected.
The incident was off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin, about 20 miles east of the city of Ba Don. The two were declared Missing In Action, and it was felt that there was a good chance that the enemy forces knew their fate.
Nearly 2500 Americans were lost in Southeast Asia during our military involvement there. Since the war in Southeast Asia ended in 1973, thousands of reports of Americans still in captivity have been received by the U.S. Government. The official policy is that no conclusive proof has been obtained that is current enough to act upon. Detractors of this policy say conclusive proof is in hand, but that the willingness or ability to rescue these prisoners does not exist.
John Bush and Harley Hackett, if among the hundreds said to be still alive and in captivity, must be wondering, "Where ARE you, America?" Where are we, America, when the life of even one American is not worth the effort of recovery? When the next war comes, and it is our sons lost, will we then care enough to do everything we can to bring our prisoners home?
Harley B. Hackett III graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1965. John R. Bush graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1966.