HAAS, LEON FREDERICK
Name: Leon Frederick Haas
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 155, USS ORISKANY (CVA 34)
Date of Birth: 03 April 1943
Home City of Record: Newton NJ
Date of Loss: 17 July 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 184759N 1954757E (WF890860)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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.
SYNOPSIS: The USS ORISKANY was a World War II-era carrier on duty in Vietnam
as early as 1964. The ORISKANY at one time carried the RF8A (number 144608)
flown by Maj. John H. Glenn, the famous Marine astronaut (and later Senator)
flew in his 1957 transcontinental flight. In October, 1966 the ORISKANY
endured a tragic fire which killed 44 men onboard, but was soon back on
station. In 1972, the ORISKANY had an at-sea accident which resulted in the
loss of one of its aircraft elevators, and later lost a screw that put the
carrier into drydock in Yokosuka, Japan for major repairs, thus delaying its
involvement until the late months of the war.
The Vought A7 Corsair II was a single-seat attack jet utilized by both the
Navy and Air Force in Vietnam. The aircraft was designed to meet the Navy's
need for a subsonic attack plane able to carry a greater load of non-nuclear
weapons that the A4 Skyhawk. The aircraft's unique design completely freed
the wingspace for bomb loading; the Pratt and Whitney jet engine was beneath
the fuselage of the aircraft. The Corsair was used primarily for close air
support and interdiction, although it was also used for reconnaissance. A
Corsair is credited with flying the last official combat mission in the war
- bombing a target in Cambodia on 15 August 1973.
Lieutenant Leon F. Haas was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 155 on board
the USS ORISKANY. On July 17, 1972, Haas was assigned a night surveillance
mission near the city of Vinh in Nghe An Province, North Vietnam.
During the mission, Haas flew his aircraft into the water about 5 miles off
the coast of North Vietnam in an attempt to evade hostile fire or possible
mid-air collision with another aircraft. He was not recovered, and was
thought to have died when the aircraft crashed. He was initially listed
Missing in Action, but his status was later changed to Killed in Action.
Haas is listed among the missing because his remains were never found to
send home to the country he served. But, for his family, the case seems
clear that he died on that day. The fact that they have no body to bury with
honor is not of great significance.
For other who are missing, however, the evidence leads not to death, but to
survival. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports received relating to
Americans still held captive in Indochina have convinced experts that
hundreds of men are still alive, waiting for their country to rescue them.
The notion that Americans are dying without hope in the hands of a long-ago
enemy belies the idea that we left Vietnam with honor. It also signals that
tens of thousands of lost lives were a frivolous waste of our best men.