MOORE, ERNEST MELVIN JR.
Name: Ernest Melvin "Mel" Moore, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 192, USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14)
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Millbrae CA
Loss Date: 11 March 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204500N 1061200E (XH249947)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: none
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.
REMARKS: 730304 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS TICONDEROGA (CVA 14) was first in Vietnam waters in late
1944 when fighter planes from the TICONDEROGA and the USS HANCOCK flew
strike missions against enemy vessels in Saigon Harbor. The TICONDEROGA, the
fourteenth U.S. aircraft carrier to be built, was on station during the very
early years of the Vietnam war and remained throughout most of the duration
of the war.
The "World Famous Golden Dragons" of Attack squadron 192 returned to the
waters off North Vietnam in November 1966, their third combat deployment and
a cruise that would prove to be both intense and noteworthy.
Commander Ernest M. "Mel" Moore, Jr. was an A4E Skyhawk pilot and the
executive officer of Attack Squadron ONE NINE TWO, onboard the USS
TICONDEROGA. As the monsoon season drew to a close and spring arrived,
VA-192 increased the numbers of strikes it made against targets in the Iron
Triangle (Hanoi/Haiphong/Thanh Hoa) region of North Vietnam.
CDR Moore was one of six SHRIKE pilots in the squadron. SHRIKE missions were
considered to be among the toughest of the war.
The SHRIKE pilot's job was to fly ahead of the strike group by five to seven
minutes literally trying to draw fire from the surface-to-air missile
emplacements. When the ground radar found the SHRIKE, the pilot would fire
anti-radar missiles at SAM sites. The goal was either to actually knock out
the SAM radar or, as was sometimes the case, to force the North Vietnamese
to turn off the radar, enabling the alpha strike force behind the SHRIKE
aircraft to fly on and off their targets without SAMs launched against them.
The more SAMs that were fired at the SHRIKES meant fewer fired at the
formations, which had to stay together to complete their part of the
Moore had led several SHRIKE missions, which were flown by more experienced
pilots, and on a volunteer basis in this squadron. On the squadron's first
alpha strike, on a truck facility at (Van Dien near Hanoi) two of four
SHRIKE aircraft led by Moore were hit, while the other two did a lot of
dodging. Both of the damaged aircraft made it back to ship and the pilots
On March 11, 1967, Moore launched in his A4E on another SHRIKE mission in
the Iron Triangle. during the mission, his aircraft was hit by enemy fire
and he was forced to eject. Moore was captured immediately.
The period in which Moore was captured was not a good one for "guests" of
Hanoi. It was the period of greatest torture and deprivation for American
POWs. The world did not yet know the inhumane treatment Americans were
receiving in the hands of the North Vietnamese.
Meanwhile, the Golden Dragons continued their strikes against targets in
North Vietnam. The month after Moore was captured was a landmark month for
Naval aviation, although one of tragedy for the family of a the squadron's
operations officer, LCDR Michael J. Estocin.
Michael John Estocin is the only Navy jet pilot to receive the Congressional
Medal of Honor for a combat role. He was awarded the CMH for conspicuous
gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call
of duty on 20 and 26 April 1967 while flying SHRIKE from VA 192 onboard the
TICONDEROGA. While the CMH was not normally given for a combination of
missions, an exception was made for this very intense two-day SHRIKE mission
and, according to those who flew with Estocin, the honor was well-deserved.
Although Estocin was classified as a Prisoner of War, he was not returned at
the end of the war. He remains missing.
Mel Moore was released in Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was
among 591 Americans to be released from prison camps in Vietnam.
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.
Ernest Moore retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He lived in
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