MARTIN, SAMMY ARTHUR
Name: Sammy Arthur Martin
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 16 October 1942
Home City of Record: Bryan TX
Date of Loss: 27 December 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 172658N 1070900E (YE283304)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
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 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"
1Lt. Sammy A. Martin was a pilot trained for the "backseat" duties on the
Phantom fighter/bomber aircraft. His job included such things as navigation,
bombardier, or weapons systems operation, depending on the type of aircraft
and variety of mission. Martin was assigned to the 390th Tactical Fighter
Squadron at Da Nang, South Vietnam.
On December 27, 1967 Martin and his pilot were assigned an armed
reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Armed reconnaissance, in combat
terms, really meant "look for targets and destroy them." During the mission
Martin's aircraft was struck by hostile fire in the Quang Binh Province
area. Martin and his pilot were able to guide the aircraft over water to
facilitate rescue when they ejected.
Both Martin and his pilot ejected safely and rescue operations proceeded
normally. The pilot was recovered, but when Martin was hoisted out of the
water by rescue helicopter, he slipped out of the rescue sling and dropped
back into the water. Martin was lost from sight in a large wave. According
to the Department of the Air Force, "evidence of [Martin's] death due to
drowning was received" on December 28, 1967. The nature of the evidence is
not stated, but Martin's body was not recovered.
Sammy A. Martin is listed among the missing because his remains were never
found to send home to the country he served. He died a tragically ironic
death in the midst of war. But, for his family, the case seems clear that he
died on that day. The fact that they have no body to bury with honor is not
of great significance.
For other who are missing, however, the evidence leads not to death, but to
survival. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports received relating to
Americans still held captive in Indochina have convinced experts that
hundreds of men are still alive, waiting for their country to rescue them.
The notion that Americans are dying without hope in the hands of a long-ago
enemy belies the idea that we left Vietnam with honor. It also signals that
tens of thousands of lost lives were a frivolous waste of our best men.