Name: William Porter Lawrence
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 143, USS CONSTELLATION
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Nashville TN
Date of Loss: 28 June 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 203300N 1060400E (XH111725)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B
Missions: 50+
Other Personnel in Incident: James W. Bailey (released POW)

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 CONSTELLATION provided air power to the U.S. effort in
Vietnam early in the war, having participated in strikes against Loc Chao
and Hon Gai in North Vietnam during August 1964. One of the first American
POWs of the war, and certainly one of the most well-known, LTJG Everett
Alverez, launched from her decks and was captured during this series of
strikes in 1964. The CONSTELLATION was large and carried a full range of
aircraft. Fighters from her air wing, CVW-14, earned the carrier the
Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1968 during a particularly intense period
of air attacks. VF-96, a premier fighter squadron awarded the Clifton Trophy
two straight years, flew from the CONSTELLATION in October 1971. During this
period, two of her pilots, LT Randall H. Cunningham and LTJG William
"Willie" Driscoll became the first American aces of the Vietnam War, having
shot down five Russian-made MiG enemy aircraft. The CONSTELLATION remained
on station throughout most of the war.

One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the CONSTELLATION was the F4
Phantom. The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a
multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
planes around.

CDR William P. "Bill" Lawrence was the commanding officer of Fighter Squadron
143 onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. On 28 June 1967, Lawrence and his
backseater, LTJG James W. Bailey, flew a mission over Nam Dinh, North
Vietnam in their F4B Phantom. The aircraft was hit by enemy fire and the
crew was forced to eject. Both Lawrence and Bailey were captured by the
North Vietnamese.

It was not yet known that POWs were being tortured in captivity in Vietnam,
but Lawrence was to endure five consecutive days of misery in the hands of
his captors. By the time Lawrence and Bailey reached Hanoi, other POW
officers were devising their own code of conduct that specifically applied
to the problems they encountered as prisoners of war.

For the next six years, Lawrence and Bailey were held prisoner in the Hanoi
prison system. Finally, on February 18, 1973, Bailey was released, and on
March 4 Lawrence was released. The two were among 591 Americans that were
released in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.

James W. Bailey was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant during his captivity.
William P. Lawrence remained in the Navy and attained the rank of Vice

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Captain - United States Navy
Shot Down: June 28, 1967
Released: March 4, 1973

I was shot down during an early morning bombing mission. Hours thereafter I
had my first interrogation session. I had been captured by a band of stick
swinging peasants who turned me over to the armed citizenry. The militia
decided that we would run the entire distance to the outpost where I would
be transported to Hanoi. we ran two abreast with the peasants and tattered
clothed children running along poking and prodding me with their sticks. I
had always kept myself in good physical condition, but my guard was in his
twenties and I was in my late thirties and did not have the endurance of a
younger man. It's hard for a person to believe, but I was literally running
for my life. We ran for an hour or two, we finally reached the outpost, I
was blindfolded and handcuffed, placed in a truck for an unbelievably
uncomfortable trip to Hanoi. Upon my arrival I was put on the floor in a
room, tied and blindfolded. I was left for about an hour. Then in came the
famous Bug who was in charge of my interrogation. He had probably the worst
personality I had ever encountered in my life and had a great deal of hatred
for Americans and delighted in his role of being in charge of the camp's
torture program. When I refused to answer their questions I was given to
understand that I was a criminal and would be treated as such. It wasn't
long before the torture session started. A professional jailer before the
war, old Strap and Bar, also known as Pig Eye, soon went to work on me. The
flesh was literally stripped from my ankles from writhing in the irons. I
still carry the cigarette burns on my arms which are the result of a torture
session. We were not only tortured for information, but also to visit with
peace delegations. If we refused, we were tortured and if one finally
consented to do so, he would be tortured before hand to be certain he said
the right things. You could never trust a Communist. I've never met one who
would tell you the truth.

Time passed slowly. We learned to plan our day around thinking. I went
through my complete life detail by detail three times. However, when we were
allowed to have roommates we would find out what each man knew and then
exchange information. We  were only allowed to speak in a whisper. One of my
specialty areas is the Civil War I shared this information. One roommate
knew a lot about the repair of automobiles he taught us auto maintenance;
another was proficient in Spanish and another in French. The North
Vietnamese would not give us any writing materials but it wasn't long before
we had our own supply. Pencils were made out of toothpaste tubes. We learned
to sharpen the points of bamboo sticks and use stolen Vietnamese medicine or
ink. Ink can be made by mixing charcoal with soap.

The days were easy to determine because we were not permitted to wash on
Sunday. Our "baths" were taken from something like an old horse trough and a
can was given to you to pour cold water over you. This outdoor facility was
the one used in winter and summer.

Now that I am home I wish I could bring Bug back to the United States and
show him how distorted his views of our country really are. I  would  like
to give him a grand tour of the United States and show him that America is
humane and tries to do what is right.

My main message that I wish to convey is my deep feeling of gratitude to the
American people for their many kindnesses to the returned POWs for their
constant concern and prayers during our captivity and for their magnificent
efforts to bring us home. We  shall be eternally indebted to the people of
this wonderful country.


William Lawrence retired from the United States Navy as a Vice Admiral. He
and his wife Diane resided in Maryland until his death.


The Dad: Bill Lawrence, fighter pilot, Vietnam POW

The Daughter: Laurie Lawrence, assistant professor of emergency medicine,
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

One day in 1972, during her junior year in high school in Encinitas, Calif.,
Laurie Lawrence realized her father was never coming home again. Five years
earlier, Navy Capt. Bill Lawrence had been shot down over North Vietnam, a
fighter pilot whose luck had run out on his 76th mission.

"They had a father-daughter event at school," she says, "and I remember it
just hitting me like a ton of bricks that I didn't have a dad and wasn't
ever going to have a dad. In my mind, he was dead. It was the first time it
ever really seemed permanent."

On a June afternoon in 1967, Laurie had learned he'd been shot down when a
friend's mother, rather than her own, picked her and some friends up after
an afternoon sporting event. "Where's my mom?" she asked the friend's
mother, who remained strangely silent.

"I knew what it meant when the official car was at our house," says Laurie,
who had grown up with an older brother and younger sister on and around
military bases. Her mother knew the life as well--her own father had been
shot down in the Philippines during World War II. "It was so typical of my
mother--she was real matter-of-fact. She told us, 'Your father's been shot
down and they don't know if he's alive.' We weren't allowed to cry. It was
just, 'That's how it is. There's nothing to cry about, so we're just going
to carry on.' She was just like the mother in Pat Conroy's The Great

For months there were mixed signals. The family received a stilted letter,
ostensibly from her father. Laurie's mother declared it a fake and said he
probably wasn't coming home. She eventually began dating someone else and
finally remarried. Laurie let herself hope for a time that her dad was
returning, but as the war in Vietnam dragged on, that hope faded and finally
died for good by the time she turned 16.

When Laurie was a small child, Bill Lawrence was a test pilot at the
Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland--"perhaps the ablest...Pax
River was to produce," according to James A. Michener in his book Space. It
was high praise, since Lawrence's colleagues included the core of the future
astronaut crew--Alan Shepard, Wally Schirra, Pete Conrad, Jim Lovell. In
fact, it was only a minor congenital heart valve problem that kept Bill
Lawrence, a star scholar/athlete at Nashville's West High, from an almost
certain future as one of the first astronauts.

He rose through the ranks, alternating long periods at sea with work at
bases in Florida. He flew in the missing man formation at the funeral of
President John F. Kennedy. Laurie saw him as a strict but fair
disciplinarian who wanted to pass on life's lessons as he saw them. "We were
expected to do our best, to give something back to society," she says. "We
weren't here just to take a free ride."

By the mid-'60s, Vietnam was heating up and Capt. Lawrence, prompted by his
own sense of duty, wanted to go. He got his wish, becoming a squadron leader
in the Pukin' Dogs, a legendary group of fighter pilots. Then, on June 28,
1967, after four hours' sleep aboard the carrier Constellation, he led a
35-jet bombing raid on Haiphong. When his F-4 Phantom was hit, he could have
turned and reached the safety of the Gulf of Tonkin, but he decided to take
the hard-to-control plane through the rest of his mission and try to knock
out North Vietnamese who might otherwise shoot down more American jets.

In late 1972, Laurie lived with her mother, stepfather, sister and two
stepbrothers near San Diego. She had gone through a period of depression and
fought with her stepfather, chafing at his attempts to discipline her. No
one talked about her father. Then one day in 1973, the world turned upside
down. "It was one of those really beautiful days in January," she says. "I
was out riding my bike with some friends when my stepdad came down the road
in his car and said, 'They just announced that your father's going to come
home. You need to go home right now.' He looked like someone had hit him
with a wet fish."

Laurie was just as shocked. "You know how you pinch yourself to see that
you're not dreaming? That's how I felt. I knew there was going to be both
happiness and sadness. I thought for a while that my mother would go back to
my dad."

Her father returned in March with the scores of other prisoners who had been
held in the infamous Hoa Lo prison--the Hanoi Hilton. Capt. Lawrence had
been there nearly six years, enduring seemingly endless torture and solitary
confinement. Laurie and her siblings met him in Memphis. "I remember hugging
him and he was real, real thin, but it was weird that there was really
somebody there," she says. "To me, he'd come back from the dead."

She would get to know him again during the ensuing months and years,
changing her college plans from UCLA to Vanderbilt to be nearer to him. But
no matter how closely they drew together, there was one part of his life he
wouldn't share with her. "He'll tell me blow by blow about the operations
he's had since he's been back," she says, "but he doesn't tell me anything
about Vietnam, about being tortured, unless it's really light--maybe talking
about the nicknames they'd given the guards and how they teased them."

He and Laurie's mother talked once after his return, but there would be no
reconciliation. The family returned to the business of living out his creed
of giving back. Laurie became a physician, and she currently oversees the
night shift in Vanderbilt Medical Center's ER. Her sister Wendy became an
astronaut, her brother Bill Jr. an information technology manager of the
Americas Region with Edison Mission Energy.

Capt. Lawrence remarried and got on a career fast track, becoming a rear
admiral and deputy chief of naval operations. Laurie has since made peace
with her stepdad, "apologizing for some of the less than lovely things I
said when I was 14."

In recent years, Bill Lawrence has faced another battle, working through the
effects of a stroke. "He wasn't supposed to survive, and then he did," says
Laurie. "I think he came out of it saying, 'I'm going to beat this.' We
thought he might get back to normal, but it was a devastating stroke and
it's a miracle he's gotten as far as he has."

His attitude in the face of this latest adversity continues to teach
lessons. "I think he's always been a guidepost to us," Laurie says. "I think
of him as an overcomer. One thing I've learned from my dad is that we can go
a lot farther than we think we can. I learned just to persevere and hold to
love and duty. I've always been so thankful I can be proud of who my dad is.
That's such a gift."


VADM William P. Lawrence, USN, died Friday, December 2, 2005.

VADM Lawrence was born in Nashville, Tennessee on January 13, 1930, and
graduated with distinction from the U. S. Naval Academy in June 1951. After
receiving his Navy wings in November 1952, he served in the following Navy
fighter squadrons: VF-193, VF-101, VF-14 and VF-143 and made deployments in
the Atlantic and Pacific on seven different aircraft carriers.  He flew 25
combat missions in Korea and 150 combat missions in Vietnam.

He graduated number one in his Naval Test Pilot School class in 1956 and
while a Test Pilot at the Naval Air Test Center Patuxent River, MD., was the
first naval aviator to fly twice the speed of sound in a Navy airplane, the
F8U "Crusader III."

While Commanding Officer of VF-143 aboard USS Constellation on his second
combat deployment to Vietnam, he was shot down on June 28, 1967, and held as
a P.O.W. until March 4, 1973. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal
for inspirational leadership of fellow P.O.W.'s as senior ranking officer of
Camp Vegas in North Vietnam.

After repatriation and convalescence, he became a distinguished graduate of
the National War College. Following promotion to Rear Admiral in 1974, he
served as: Commander, Light Attack Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet; Director
Aviation Programs Division on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations;
Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare); Superintendent, U.
S. Naval Academy; Commander, U. S. Third Fleet in the Pacific; and Chief of
Naval Personnel, retiring in 1986.

From 1986 to 1991, VADM Lawrence occupied the Chair of Naval Leadership at
the U. S. Naval Academy.  He is the recipient of the National Football
Foundation and Hall of Fame Gold Medal and the National Collegiate Athletic
Association Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honors of these
organizations. He is also a past President of the Association of Naval

In addition to the three Distinguished Service Medals, VADM Lawrence was
awarded three Silver Star Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze
Star, numerous Air Medals and two Purple Hearts.

Bill Lawrence he was an inspiration to all who knew him.  This American hero
shall be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Diane and
family for their terrible loss.



Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Farewell to an American Hero
By Frank A. Aukofer

Posted: Jan. 14, 2006

Not many of us ever witness the farewell to a hero. Unless it's a
president or chief justice, it's not something that makes the
national news. Only the people who attend get to experience what it's
all about.

William P. Lawrence

The nation and, in particular, the United States Navy, recently gave
a hero's sendoff to Vice Admiral William Porter Lawrence at the U.S.
Naval Academy.

The local newspaper and television in Annapolis, Md., covered the
story. But that was about it.

Of course, every man and woman serving in harm's way, and especially
those who give their lives or are wounded, deserves the title of
hero. But Admiral Lawrence was special. He spent his life in the
service of his country, including six years in a brutal prison camp
in Vietnam.

Like most of you, I had never heard of him. We were brought together
by the Freedom Forum, a foundation that promotes free speech, free
press and free spirit. We spent nine months together in 1994-'95 on
fellowships at the foundation's First Amendment Center in Nashville,
Bill's hometown.

Together, we tried to reconcile the disparate goals and means of
America's mighty military and its unfettered journalism. The result
was a book on the military-media relationship titled "America's Team:
The Odd Couple." Among other things, it recommended the embedding of
reporters with military units, which is practiced to this day.

When I first met Bill, I was struck by his reluctance to make eye
contact - until I understood. When we'd sit and talk, he usually
focused somewhere near my kneecaps. It took awhile for me to figure
out that it was a lingering residue of his dealings with guards and
interrogators during his six years in Hoa Lo, the infamous
French-built North Vietnamese prison camp, which Bill and his fellow
prisoners nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton.

They were there at his funeral - 24 of them, now mostly old men, some
hobbling on canes and staffs, led by Sen. John McCain, the Arizona
Republican and possible presidential candidate.

Despite our disparate backgrounds - a Milwaukee kid who became a
newspaper reporter and a Nashville boy who excelled at sports and
academics and nearly became an astronaut - Bill and I became close.
With more tragedy and suffering, it intensified into what Bill's
wife, Diane, said simply was love.

A month after the book was published in 1995, Bill suffered a massive
stroke at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where he had gone to
have a heart valve replaced. It was the same valve that had produced
a murmur that lost him a shot at the astronaut corps with John Glenn
and Alan Shepard.

Instead, he became a test pilot and the first naval aviator to fly at
twice the speed of sound in the 1950s. Later, he became a squadron
commander in Vietnam. He bailed out of his crippled F-4 Phantom
fighter in June 1967 and spent six years as a prisoner of war. With
him in the Hanoi Hilton were McCain and future Admiral James B.
Stockdale, who later became H. Ross Perot's running mate in Perot's
maverick bid for the presidency.

There are so many interlocking relationships. Perot and Bill Lawrence
had been classmates at the Naval Academy, where they collaborated on
a codification of the honor code. McCain's physical therapist, after
his release from Hoa Lo, was Diane. At the funeral, he said she had
restored a knee that the doctors said would never function again -
using, he said to laughter, some of the same tactics as had his North
Vietnamese captors.

McCain introduced Diane to Bill, and she became his lifeline for 31
years, though she said he never got over the fact that his first wife
left him while he was a prisoner.

When I met Bill, he was retired from the Navy. He suffered from
depression, and his own honor code forced him to disclose it. But he
had served as commander of the famed Third Fleet and, from 1978 to
1981, was superintendent of the Naval Academy, at a time when women
were first graduating. His daughter, Wendy, was one of them. She now
is a Navy captain and an astronaut who has logged more than 1,200
hours in space.

The 1995 stroke nearly killed Bill, and he likely would have been a
wheelchair-bound invalid but for Diane. She used the same harsh and
loving tactics on him as she had on McCain, and Bill responded. He
could no longer play tennis or drive a car, but he could walk under
his own power and function as a human being.

Bill spent a lot of time on the telephone. We spoke often and got
together at home or Navy events like the Navy-Air Force football
game, where, courtesy of Bill, I got to ride to the stadium on the
Academy superintendent's bus with a police escort.

I was always struck by the respect the military community paid to
Bill. Everywhere we sat together, old friends, acquaintances and
strangers, officers and enlisted men and women, lined up to pay their
respects to this man who had suffered so much he aged before his time.

Recently, my wife and I were on a foreign trip, and we went on a tour
of the Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, now a memorial that features McCain's
flight suit and boots in a glass case. We were excited to return and
tell Bill we had seen where he and the others were imprisoned.

But he had died at home, at age 75, on Dec. 2, 2005. He told Diane he
was feeling poorly and stayed in bed. She was baking Christmas
cookies and found him when she went to check on him.

Bill was cremated, and his remains were placed in a polished wooden
box. At his funeral, the box was carried by an honor guard into the
Naval Academy chapel, which holds 2,500 and was nearly full for the
Dec. 14 funeral.

Perot and McCain, with the 23 other former POWs standing behind him,
delivered the eulogies, along with two of Bill's doctors, another
fellow prisoner of war, Capt. Ned Shuman, and the chief of naval
operations, Adm. Michael G. Mullen. Perot read a tribute from
President Bush.

The words were all about a lifetime of integrity, duty, bravery and
unflinching honor, often in the face of torture and unrelenting
adversity. Once, in solitary confinement in the hole in Hoa Lo, Bill
composed - in his head because there was nothing with which to write
- a poem about his native Tennessee, remembering the iambic
pentameter he had learned as a schoolboy.

His fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Lipscomb Davis, a spry 90-year-old,
marched to the pulpit and read the poem. After Bill was released from
the prison in 1973, the Tennessee Legislature adopted it as the
official state poem.

After the service, the mourners followed an honor guard more than a
mile on a bitterly cold day to the hillside cemetery overlooking the
Naval Academy. Walking at the head of the procession, behind Diane's
car, were Mullen; Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff; Vice Admiral Rodney P. Rempt, the academy
superintendent; Capt. Wendy Lawrence, and Bill's other two children,
William Jr. and Laurie M. Lawrence, a Nashville physician; and me.

On the hillside, the throng prayed with the academy chaplain,
listened to the mournful playing of "Taps," heard the crack of honor
guard rifles and trembled to the crashes of a 15-gun cannon salute.
Three Navy F-18 warplanes roared overhead in a tribute to a fallen

That is how we honor a hero.

Frank Aukofer is the retired Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel and The Milwaukee Journal.


Tennessee State Poem
Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee
by Vice-Admiral William Lawrence

   Oh Tennessee, my Tennessee
      What love and pride I feel for thee.
         You proud ole state, the volunteer,
            Your proud traditions I hold dear.

   I revere your heroes
      Who bravely fought our country's foes.
         Renowned statesmen, so wise and strong,
            Who served our country well and long.

   I thrill at thoughts of mountains grand;
      Rolling green hills and fertile farm land;
         Earth rich with stone, mineral and ore;
            Forests dense and wild flowers galore;

   Powerful rivers that bring us light;
      Deep lakes with fish and fowl in flight;
         Thriving cities and industries;
            Fine schools and universities;

   Strong folks of pioneer descent,
      Simple, honest, and reverent.
         Beauty and hospitality
            Are the hallmarks of Tennessee.

   And o'er the world as I may roam,
      No place exceeds my boyhood home.
         And oh how much I long to see
            My native land, my Tennessee.

The official Tennessee Poem, "Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee", by Vice-Admiral
William P. Lawrence, was adopted in 1973. This poem was composed by William
Lawrence, in his head, while held in solitary confinement in a North
Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. During the Vietnam War, Lawrence spent
almost six years as a prisoner of war (POW) at the infamous Hoa Lo Prison
(Hanoi Hilton).


NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
May 16, 2007
Navy Names Two New Guided Missile Destroyers
Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter has announced the names for the 
U.S. Navy's two newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers 
to honor two American heroes famous for their naval service.
DDG hull number 110 will be named the USS William P. Lawrence to 
honor Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, who served nearly six years as a 
prisoner of war (POW) in North Vietnam and later as superintendent of 
the Naval Academy.
Lawrence was born Jan. 13, 1930, in Nashville, Tenn. He graduated from 
the U.S. Naval Academy in 1951.At the Naval Academy, he played three 
varsity sports and was president and brigade commander, in which 
capacity he helped establish the Brigade Honor concept. He graduated 
from the Naval Air Test Center as an honor graduate and in 1958 was 
the first naval aviator to fly twice the speed of sound.
During the Vietnam War, as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 
143, Lawrence earned the Silver Star for a strike against a heavily 
defended target in North Vietnam. He completed his mission, but was 
captured after his aircraft went down and he remained a POW until 
March 1973.He earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his 
leadership to fellow POWs. Along with fellow prisoner and naval 
aviator, Vice Adm. James Stockdale, Lawrence became noted for 
resistance to his captors. Stockdale remarked that Lawrence, 
"repeatedly paid the price for being perceived by the enemy as a 
source of their troubles through his high crime of leadership. He 
could not be intimidated and never gave up the ship.
In August 1978, he became superintendent of the Naval Academy and 
subsequently served as commander Third Fleet and chief of naval 
personnel. Following promotion to rear admiral in 1974, he served as: 
commander, Light Attack Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet; director Aviation 
Programs Division on the staff of the chief of naval operations; 
assistant deputy chief of naval operations (air warfare); 
superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy; commander, U. S. Third Fleet in 
the Pacific; and chief of naval personnel, retiring in 1986.
DDG hull number 111 will be named the USS Spruance to honor Adm. 
Raymond A. Spruance, whose calm and decisive leadership in command of 
Task Force 16 at the Battle of Midway contributed to the pivotal 
American victory.
Spruance was born in Baltimore, on July 3, 1886.He graduated from the 
U.S. Naval Academy in 1906..His career was extensive, including 
command of five destroyers and the battleship Mississippi.
In the first months of World War II in the Pacific,. Spruance 
commanded a cruiser division. He led Task Force 16, with two aircraft 
carriers, during the Battle of Midway. Spruance's disposition of 
forces and management of available aircraft proved to be brilliant. 
His decisions during that action were important to its outcome, which 
changed the course of the war with Japan.
After the Battle of Midway, he became chief of staff to the commander 
in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas and later was 
deputy commander in chief. In mid-1943, he was given command of the 
Central Pacific Force, which became the Fifth Fleet in April 1944. 
While holding that command in 1943-45, with the USS Indianapolis 
(CA-35) as his usual flagship, Spruance directed the campaigns that 
captured the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and 
defeated the Japanese fleet in the June 1944 Battle of Philippine Sea.
Spruance held command of the Pacific Fleet in late 1945 and early 
1946.He then served as president of the Naval War College until 
retiring from the Navy in July 1948.In 1952-55, he was ambassador to 
the Philippines. Spruance died at Pebble Beach, Calif., on Dec. 13, 1969.
The USS William P. Lawrence and the USS Spruance will provide dynamic 
multi-mission platforms to lead the Navy into the future. Using a gas 
turbine propulsion system the ship can operate independently or as 
part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious 
ready groups, and underway replenishment groups. Combat systems center 
around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-lD, multi-function phased 
array radar. The combination of Aegis, the Vertical Launching System, 
an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft 
missiles and Tomahawk, the Arleigh Burke-class continues the 
revolution at sea.


More info


August 20, 2008

I have created a tribute for Capt Wendy Lawrence, USN, daughter of former Vietnam
POW VADM William P. Lawrence:


April 15, 2010

Navy Christens Guided Missile Destroyer William P. Lawrence

The Navy will christen the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, William P. Lawrence, April 17, 2010, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

Designated DDG 110, the new destroyer honors the late Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, who served nearly six years as a prisoner of war (POW) in North Vietnam and later as superintendent of the Naval Academy.

Lawrence was born Jan. 13, 1930, in Nashville, Tenn. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1951. At the Naval Academy, he played three varsity sports and was president and brigade commander, in which capacity he helped establish the Brigade Honor concept. He graduated from the Naval Air Test Center as an honor graduate and in 1958 was the first naval aviator to fly twice the speed of sound.

During the Vietnam War, as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, Lawrence earned the Silver Star for a strike against a heavily defended target in North Vietnam. He completed his mission, but was captured after his aircraft went down. He remained a POW from June 1967 until March 1973. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership to fellow POWs.

Following promotion to rear admiral in 1974, he served as commander, Light Attack Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet; director, Aviation Programs Division on the staff of the chief of naval operations; assistant deputy chief of naval operations (air warfare); superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy; commander, U. S. Third Fleet in the Pacific; and chief of naval personnel, retiring in 1986.

Ross Perot, Texas businessman and former presidential candidate, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Diane Lawrence, widow of the ship's namesake and Vice Adm. Lawrence's daughters, Laurie Lawrence, M.D., and Capt. Wendy Lawrence, USN (Ret.) will serve as sponsors of the ship. In accordance with Navy tradition, they will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow and christen the ship.

William P. Lawrence, the 60th Arleigh Burke class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. William P. Lawrence will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to supportmaritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," which postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Thomas R. Williams, II, is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton William P. Lawrence is being built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

Additional information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers is available online at .

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Navy Commissions New Guided Missile Destroyer William P. Lawrence

                 The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, William P. Lawrence, Saturday, June 4, 2011, during an 11 a.m. CDT ceremony at Pier 2, Alabama State Docks, Mobile, Ala.
                 Designated DDG 110, the new destroyer honors the late Vice  Adm. William P. Lawrence.  During the Vietnam War, as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, Lawrence earned the Silver Star for a strike against  a heavily defended target in North Vietnam.  He completed his mission, but was captured after his aircraft went down in June 1967 and he remained a  POW until March 1973.  He earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership to fellow POWs.
                 Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., commander, U.S. Northern Command will deliver the ceremony's principal address.  Diane Lawrence, widow of the ship's namesake and Vice Adm. Lawrence's daughters, Dr. Laurie  Lawrence, and retired Navy Capt. Wendy Lawrence, will serve as sponsors of the ship.
                 William P. Lawrence,the 60th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power  projection.  William P. Lawrence will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain myriad offensive and  defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare.

                Cmdr. Thomas R. Williams II will become the first commanding officer of the ship.  The 9,200-ton William P. Lawrence was  built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss.  The ship is  509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet.  Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds  in excess of 30 knots.

                Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.  For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit
Mattoon woman to pass POW bracelet on to family of sailor
Kevin Kilhoffer | Journal Gazette, AP Lisa Hamblen, of Mattoon, on May 25 shows the ship insignia, POW bracelet and invitation for a commissioning ceremony ...
ILLINOIS SPOTLIGHT: Woman to return Vietnam POW bracelet to family ...
Greenfield Daily Reporter
In this photo taken May 25, 2011, Lisa Hamblen shows the ship insignia, POW bracelet and invitation for a commissioning ceremony for the guided missile ...
SPOTLIGHT: Woman to return POW bracelet to family
Albany Times Union
In this photo taken May 25, 2011, a POW bracelet worn by Lisa Hamble, of Mattoon, Ill., when she 11 years old to honor William P. Lawrence, ...
SPOTLIGHT: Woman to return POW bracelet to family
Washington Examiner
AP Photo/Journal Gazette, Kevin Kilhoffer In this photo taken May 25, 2011, Lisa Hamblen shows the ship insignia, POW bracelet and invitation for a ...
From: "Patrick J. Hughes" <>
Subject: The burial of MIA pilot Major Bruce E. Lawrence MIA | July 5, 1968
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011 14:34:46 -0400
On Saturday, after 43 years missing pilot Major Bruce E. Lawrence was buried with full military honors.

The burial of MIA pilot Major Bruce E. Lawrence MIA | July 5, 1968


Patrick J. Hughes U.S.M.C. ChuLai 67-68
Rolling Thunder Inc. National Photographer
610-529-6440 Cell
God Bless America