REMAINS RETURNED - Not Noted on USG lists.

Name: Peter Mongilardi, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 153, USS CORAL SEA
Date of Birth: 01 July 1925
Home City of Record: Haledon NJ
Date of Loss: 25 June 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 195358N 1053557E (WH628002)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C
Refno: 0103
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: Air Wing 15 deployed to Southeast Asia in November 1964 onboard
the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA, participating in FLAMING DART's two
raids in retaliation to North Vietnamese aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin.
One of the attack squadrons in Air Wing 15 was the Blue Tails - Attack
Squadron 153, so named because of the splash of blue on the tails of their
A4 Skyhawks.

CDR Peter Mongilardi Jr. was the skipper of VA 153 until May 1965, at which
time he assumed duties as air wing commander (CAG), and was replaced by CDR
Harry E. Thomas. Before the long cruise was over in December, both
Mongilardi and Thomas were dead.

It was during this period that the North Vietnamese, assisted by the Soviet
Union and Chinese, was beginning to build its military from technology-poor
and ground-oriented military to one with one of the world's strongest and
most sophisticated air defense networks.

As a defense against U.S. air strikes over North Vietnam (ROLLING THUNDER)
North Vietnamese missile sites grew from ground zero in 1965 to estimates
three years later of two hundred surface-to-air (SAM) sites nationwide and
some thirty missile battalions in the Hanoi area alone. Each battalion
contained up to six missile launchers plus accompanying radar, computers and
generators. The U.S. discovered the first SAM site in April 1965, yet U.S.
pilots were forbidden to take immediate defensive action.

The CORAL SEA was in Japan in June 1965 on its way to the U.S. The ordnance
and aircraft had already been offloaded, and Thomas and Mongilardi were on a
last liberty together. While on liberty, they discovered they they were
shipping back to Vietnam.

On the first day back, Mongilardi and his wingman, Paul Reyes, flew on an
armed reconnaissance mission. CDR David Leue and his wingman were briefed at
the same time in case one of the wingmen went down, and, as luck would have
it, Leue's wingman could not transfer his drop tank and was sent back to the
ship. Leue joined up with Pete and his wingman. Leue describes armed "recce"
as "usually two people flying down a route, really target practice for the
local AAA batteries as you come down the pike. I always said if I made it to
admiral I would not have done traditional armed recce. To many people are

The three pilots were in the area of Thanh Hoa. Leue was flying with
instrument problems, and had no air speed altimeter or pressurization. It
was no problem except for determining the flight altitude. Through some
broken clouds, Leue spotted a power plant below and radioed that he was
rolling in on it. Mongilardi ordered him not to hit the plant because it was
denied under the rules of engagement.

By this time, Leue had pulled away from Mongilardi and his wingman, and he
turned to rejoin them. As he did, Mongilardi radioed, "I'm rolling in on a
little bridge," followed by, "Flak." Leue heard Mongilardi get hit and said,
"He actually keyed the mike, I heard a couple of deep breaths, and I called
Reyes to ask 'Where are you?' Paul said, 'We're by this rain storm and I've
lost CAG [Mongilardi]. I don't know where he is.' Well, he'd been shot and
killed; a real tough loss."

Leue was saddened to lose Mongilardi, whom he described as "a superior air
wing commander, naval officer and warrior." It was less than two months
later, on August 13, 1965, when CDR Harry Thomas was shot down 70 miles west
of Hanoi on a low-level strike mission searching for SAM sites. Thomas'
aircraft flew into a volley of flak, was hit and crashed. Thomas did not
survive. Leue was moved into the position of skipper of the Blue Tails,
carrying with him the sadness of having lost two superior squadron

CDR Mongilardi was originally classified Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered.
He was listed among the missing because his remains not found  at the time.

From - Wed Mar 08 07:44:25 2000
Subject: Incorrect Status regarding my fathers remains

My name is Raoul Peter Mongilardi, My Father Cmdr. Peter Mongilardi was shot
down in 1965.  Two websites post his status as "body not recovered" which is
aside from invasive to my family, not accurate.

The fact is hsi remains WERE accounted for and returned in 1994 by efforts
inacted by his daughter, my sister, Mrs, Julie Sims and myself. The
websites, & Street where a miss
Cheryl at continue to ignore my requests to remove this

I have tried to email Cheryl but her email is returned...?  It would seem to
me that anyone who cares enough to "adopt a POW/ MIA" would take the time to
research the true status of that person and not simply ignore the wishes of
the surving family members.  If you have any means to communicate with these
people I would appreciate the dignity of a response to my family's concerns
in this matter.

Otherwise I will take steps to inform the Dept. Of the Navy that my families
privacy is being invaded.


Raoul Peter Mongilardi


New Jersey Record (NJ)
May 19, 2006

Navy seeks DNA to confirm pilot is Haledon man

HALEDON HALEDON In December 1965, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier named the
Coral Sea embarked from the sunny shores of Alameda, Calif., sailing toward
enemy territory the Bay of Tonkin in Vietnam.....


January 25, 2007


        The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO)
        announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in
        action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be
        returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

        He is Cmdr. Peter Mongilardi, Jr., U.S. Navy, of Haledon, N.J.  He
        will be buried on April 11 at Arlington National Cemetery near
        Washington D.C.

        On June 25, 1965, Mongilardi departed the USS Coral Sea in his A-4C
        Skyhawk on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam.  His
        flight encountered bad weather and enemy fire over Thanh Hoa
        Province, causing the wingman to lose visual and radio contact with
        Mongilardi.  Contact was never re-established and the aircraft
        failed to return to the carrier.

        In 1993, a joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.)
        archival team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC),
        obtained information concerning the crash while researching
        documents, artifacts and photographs at the Central Army Museum in
        Hanoi.  Later that year, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team conducted an
        investigation in Thanh Hoa Province.  The team interviewed two local
        Vietnamese citizens who recalled the crash and said the pilot died
        in the impact.  The men then led the team to the crash site.

        In 1994, another joint team excavated the crash site and recovered
        human remains and pilot-related items, including a belt tip, boot
        heel, pieces of flight boot and other items worn by the pilot.

        Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial
        evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA
        Identification Laboratory also used nuclear DNA in the
        identification of the remains.

        For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to
        account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1169.

Date: February 15, 2007 10:42:07 AM EST
 Subject: Funeral for CDR Peter Mongilardi, CAG Air Wing 15/USS Coral Sea, SEA

 CDR Peter Mongilardi, CAG CVW-15, KIA 25 June 1965, will be interred at Arlington
 National Cemetery on Wed, 11 April 07, at 1100.

 An A-4 driver and light attack pilot, CDR Mongilardi has the distinction of being
 the first CAG to be lost in VN.  After serving as CO of VA-153, the 'Blue Tail Flies'
 (aboard the USS CORAL SEA, during her historic 12 month-long SEA combat cruise of
 1964-1965), he was advanced to CAG of CVW-15 in early 1965, prior to being lost in June.

 His crash site was discovered in NVN in 1994 by a US team, and soon thereafter was
 fully excavated.  A great deal of Life Support artifacts were recovered, as well as
 a very small amount of human remains.

 Last year, in early-2006, DNA technology had sufficiently advanced to allow the
 re-examination of the remains, which were successful in conclusively identifying
 them as those of CDR Mongilardi.  With this final hurdle cleared, his family
 (former spouse, daughter, and son) have decided to inter him at ANC in April.

Pilot, MIA in Vietnam, finally comes home: Peter Mongilardi Jr. was shot down over Vietnam

By Judy Finney
Advance Reporter

Editor's note: Raoul Mongilardi recently contacted The Advance and told us the story of his father's return home. We wanted to share it with you.......




Return to Service Member Profiles

On October 24, 2006, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now DPAA) identified the remains of Commander Peter Mongilardi Jr., missing from the Vietnam War.

Commander Mongilardi entered the U.S. Navy from New Jersey and was a member of Carrier Air Wing 15. On June 25, 1965, he piloted an A-4C Skyhawk (bureau number 149574) that launched from the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. While over Thanh Hoa Province, the Skyhawk was shot down when it was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire, and CDR Mongilardi was killed in the crash. Extensive searches could not locate the wreckage, and his remains were not recovered at the time of his loss. In 1994, a joint search team located the crash site and recovered remains that U.S. analysts eventually identified as those of CDR Mongilardi.

Commander Mongilardi is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.