MONGILARDI, PETER JR.
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
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.
REMARKS: VISRAD CNTC - LST SAR N - FBIS - J
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
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, www.angelfire.com & www.geocities.com/Bourbon Street where a miss
Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
NAVY AVIATOR MISSING IN ACTION FROM THE VIETNAM WAR IS IDENTIFIED
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
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
http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo 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
An A-4 driver and light attack pilot, CDR Mongilardi has the distinction of being
His crash site was discovered in NVN in 1994 by a US team, and soon thereafter was
Last year, in early-2006, DNA technology had sufficiently advanced to allow the
Pilot, MIA in Vietnam, finally comes home: Peter Mongilardi Jr. was shot down over Vietnam
By Judy Finney
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.......