LESTER, RODERICK BARNUM
Name: Roderick Barnum Lester Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 52, USS KITTY HAWK (CVA 63) Date of Birth: 19 June 1946 Home City of Record: Morton WA Date of Loss: 20 August 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 210000N 1054500E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Refno: 1912 Other Personnel In Incident: Harry S. Mossman (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 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 2000.
SYNOPSIS: The Commander of the 7th Fleet once remarked that the low level missions over Hanoi and Haiphong that the A6 pilots were sent on were among the most demanding ever asked of Navy pilots. He added that it was fortunate that these A6 pilots were among the most talented in the military.
LTJG Roderick B. Lester was a seasoned pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 52 onboard the aircraft carrier USS KITTY HAWK. On August 20, Lester launched on his 144th mission with his Bombardier/Navigator (BN) Lt. Harry S. Mossman, in their A6A Intruder attack aircraft on a night, low-level, armed reconnaissance mission in the general vicinity of Cam Pha, North Vietnam.
During their mission, a brief radio transmision from the aircraft was received, "Let's get the hell out of here." The transmission was felt to indicate the planned flight path was being aborted because of heavy enemy fire. At the same time, another air crew on the mission noted a flash of light under the 1,000 foot overcast in the same general vicinity of their aircraft location. The aircraft was last tracked over Hanoi, North Vietnam.
Weather was poor, with numerous thunderstorms which made the source of the flash of light difficult to determine. Electronic surveillance was begun. A visual search of the area noted accurate gunfire. Further search was negative.
Lester and Mossman did not return from the mission, and were placed in a Missing in Action status. The area of their last known locaton was heavily populated, and there is every reason to believe that the Vietnamese could account for the two - alive or dead, yet the Vietnamese have given no added information on them.
When the war ended, refugees from the communist-overrun countries of Southeast Asia began to flood the world, bringing with them stories of missing GI's in their country. Since 1975, nearly 10,000 such stories have been received. Many authorities believe that hundreds of Americans are still held in the countries in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Government operates on the "assumption" that one or more men are being held, but that it cannot "prove" that this is the case, allowing action to be taken. Meanwhile, low-level talks between the U.S. and Vietnam proceed, yielding a few sets of remains when it seems politically expedient to return them, but as yet, no living American has returned.
During the period he was maintained missing, Roderick B. Lester was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Saturday, November 11, 2000, 12:51 a.m. Pacific
After 28 years, family of missing Vietnam pilot gets word that his plane's wreckage has been found
by Kim Barker
Seattle Times staff reporter has been a question mark for 28 years, remembered in fading snapshots and yellowed newspaper clippings, in scrapbooks of typed high-school speeches and first paychecks and in letters from presidents who say they are sorry.......
Kim Barker's phone message number is 206-464-2255. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.