Name: Earl Gardner Lewis, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: USS Coral Sea VF 151
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Cape Girardeau MO
Date of Loss: 24 October 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212800N 1052600E (WJ448736)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B
Missions: 151
Source: Compiled 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 in 2002.
Other Personnel In Incident: (from other F4 at same coordinates): Charles C.
Gillespie (returned POW); Richard C. Clark (missing); Robert Frishmann, (both
returned POWs)
SYNOPSIS: On October 24, 1967, Ltjg. Richard Clark was flying as backseater
aboard the F4B Phantom fighter jet flown by Commander Charles R. Gillespie
on a bombing mission over the Hanoi, Haiphong and Vinh Phuc region of North
Vietnam. The aircraft was one in a flight of two.
Clark and Gillespie's aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile and
crashed in Vinh Phu Province. Other members of the flight observed two good
parachutes, heard one electronic beacon signal, and observed one
unidentified crew member on the ground.
On the same day, the F4 flown by Earl Lewis and Robert Frishmann was shot
down at the same coordinates. Frishmann relates that he "wasn't even diving
when they hit me. I was flying. Bad luck!" Frishmann sustained a serious
injury to his arm by missile fragments. Frishmann believed Lewis was dead,
but after 4 hours, located him. Both were captured by the Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese were able to save Frishmann's arm, but he lost his elbow,
leaving the arm nearly 8 inches shorter than the other. A reporter, Oriana
Fallaci, interviewed Frishmann for Look Magazine in July 1969. At that time,
he had been held in solitary confinement for 18 months.
Lewis, Frishmann and Gillespie were held in various locations in and around
Hanoi as prisoners. At no time did any of them see Richard Clark, who had
successfully ejected from the aircraft.
Lt. Frishmann was released in August 1969 with the blessings of the POW
community. His message to the world would reveal the torture endured by
Americans held in Vietnam and cause a public outcry which would eventually
help stop the torture and result in better treatment for the prisoners.
Gillespie and Lewis were both released from Hanoi March 14, 1973 in the
general prisoner release nearing the end of American involvement in the war
in Vietnam.
Cdr. Gillespie, in his debrief, stated that after the missile hit, smoke
filled the cockpit, and as the intercom system failed, he gave an emergency
hand signal to eject and he did not see Lt. Clark again. On October 24,
Radio Hanoi announced that in the afternoon of October 24, eight U.S. war
planes had been shot down and that a number of U.S. pilots had been
captured. The U.S. correlates this information to Lt. Clark and placed him
in prisoner of war classification. (Inexplicably, however, the Defense
Intelligence Agency codes Clark as "category 2" which means only "suspected"
enemy knowledge of his fate.)
If Lt. Clark was captured, why did he not return home? If he died, where are
his remains? If he is one of the hundreds of Americans experts now believe
are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia, what are we doing to bring
him home? What must he be thinking of us?
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).
Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: October 24, 1967
Released: March 14, 1973
Lcdr. Earl G. Lewis, Jr. was shot down while on his second cruise, on
October 24, 1967. Mr. Lewis and his wife,  Suzanne, are both originally from
Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Their son, Earl Gardner Lewis, III, (nicknamed
Tres) is five years old and was born after Lcdr. Lewis was shot down.
"While I was a prisoner of war I felt certain that the American people would
remember us with faith and loyalty, but it was deeply reassuring to witness
the depth of this concern upon my return to the United States. It has been
"I certainly appreciate all the outpouring of enthusiasm over our return,
but there are many thousands of men who also deserve this and these are the
men who served their time in Vietnam and returned to be shunned and
sometimes ignored by many of us and to be criticized by their
contemporaries. Last but not least are the many thousands who were wounded
and the 46,000 men who gave the supreme sacrifice; they too deserve
recognition. Remember them. Remember our MlA's.
"I hope that our return will in some way help to pull the country together
after such a long and controversial war."

Earl Lewis Jr. retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He now
lives in California. He lost his father September 20, 2002.