Name: William Thomas Mayall
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force, NAV
Unit: 307 Strat Wing
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Levittown NY
Date of Loss: 22 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210125N 1055100E (WJ880210)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B52

Other Personnel in Incident: Gary L. Morgan; John H. Yuill; David I. Drummond;
William W. Conlee; Louis H. Bernasconi (all released POWs)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 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: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs
were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House
Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all
U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in

Linebacker II flights generally arrived over Hanoi in tight cells of three
aircraft to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and
flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all
bombs fell on the military targets and not in civilian areas.

The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded
Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. The Christmas Bombings, despite press
accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots
involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes
against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S.,
had it desired, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting
an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward."

To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick
to a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictable B52 strikes were
anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however, flight
paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile threat from
the ground.

Still, aircraft were shot down near the end of the campaign. On December 22,
1972, a B52 was shot down near Hanoi. Its crew included LTCOL John H. Yuill,
LTCOL Louis H. Bernasconi, LTCOL William W. Conlee, CAPT David I. Drummond,
1LT William T. Mayall, and TSGT Gary L. Morgan. This crew was exceptionally
fortunate--they were all were captured by the North Vietnamese. The captured
crew was held in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, at which time they were released
in Operation Homecoming. The U.S. did not know all of them had been captured.

Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at
Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapoa
Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with over
one thousand men flying the missions. However, the bombings were not conducted
without high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December
1972, 61 crewmembers onboard ten B52 aircraft were shot down and were captured
or declared missing. (The B52 carried a crew of six men; however, one B52 lost
carried an extra crewman.) Of these 61, 33 men were released in 1973. The
others remained missing at the end of the war. Over half of these survived to
eject safely.

Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to
Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The crew of
the B52 shot down on December 22 was lucky to have survived and only have a
few weeks imprisonment. Many authorities are now convinced that many Americans
are still held captive in Southeast Asia. It's time we found them and brought
them home.

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

1st Lieutenant - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 22, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
I began my Air Force career by being commissioned a Second Lieutenant in
November of 1970. I reported to Mather AFB for navigator training as my first
assignment. Upon completion of my training, I remained at Mather to attend the
advanced navigator school for navigator-bombadiers. Upon completion of NBT, I
was assigned to a B-52 bomber at Carswell AFB, Texas. I reported to Carswell
in September of 1972. After checking out in the aircraft, I left for overseas
in November of 1972.

I had been flying overseas for about five weeks when the December eighteenth
bombing raids began. While flying a combat mission on the morning of December
22, 1972, our  B-52 was hit by two surface to air missiles over Hanoi, North
Vietnam.  The missiles impacted the aircraft in the belly  just in  front  of
where the navigators  sit downstairs. The plane, although still flying, was
burning badly. With  the impact of the second missile, we had lost our
interphone and were unable to communicate with each other. After approximately
thirty seconds the red bail out light came on and the ejection sequence was
started. The radar navigator gave me a thumbs up signaling me to go. I pulled
my ejection handle but unfortunately my ejection seat malfunctioned and would
not work. After several moments of frantic pulling, the radar navigator,
realizing what had happened, proceeded to eject, thus affording me an
alternate means of escape.  I saw him eject and then I disengaged myself from
my seat and proceeded to make a manual bailout out the navigator's hatch.

Upon hitting the slip-stream, I was violently tossed about in the air. I had
my fists clenched and my gloves were ripped off down to my finger nails. I had
the sensation of a doll being flailed about in a strong a wind.  I remember
fighting to obtain a good body position so as to be prepared for the initial
shock of my parachute opening. I was still struggling when suddenly I heard a
loud pop and I was under my chute.

The ride down was a long one. I couldn't see the ground or where I was going
to land  because of dense cloud coverage. I finally broke  through the clouds
about ten seconds before I hit the ground. I landed in a rice paddy and within
moments the North Vietnamese had arrived with their rifles blazing and
effected my capture. The time was 0400.

By mid-afternoon I was in an isolation cell in the Hanoi Hilton. The
interrogation began almost immediately. I remained in isolation five days
and was then moved into a larger cell with seven other  B-52 prisoners.

Fortunately I was only held captive a comparatively short time. Ninety-seven
and a half days to be exact. During that time, and since my return home, I
have learned a great deal about myself. My religious-convictions have been
greatly reinforced as well as my faith in the American people. There were many
lonely nights in Hanoi. More than once the question arose as to whether
anyone knew or cared of my captivity. I never lost faith though, and upon my
return home the American people showed me that my faith in them was justified.
Their overwhelming response to the POW's homecoming was tremendous and
gratifying. I will be forever grateful to the many thousands of people who
came out at all hours of the night, in all kinds of weather to greet us. My
family and I are extremely appreciative of the many kind letters and messages
that the American people sent to us during my captivity and since my return
home. I will be forever grateful for your tremendous support.

Wiliam Mayall retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel in 2000. He
resides in Virginia.