MORIARTY, PETER GIBNEY
Name: Peter Gibney Moriarty
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Phan Rang AB SV
Date of Birth: 15 July 1941
Home City of Record: Newington CT
Date of Loss: 22 March 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163758N 1061359E (XD634395)
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.
NETWORK in 2020.
SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in
South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for
sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some
years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for
transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were
shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam.
Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful
and the recovery rate was high.
Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains
between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact
with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been
captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke
of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated,
Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been
held in Laos.
Capt. Peter G. Moriarty was a pilot trained on the F100D Super Sabre fighter
aircraft. The aircraft had first seen action in Southeast Asia in northwest
Laos in May 1962. F100 operations in Vietnam began in 1965, and took part in
Operation Flaming Dart, the first U.S. Air Force strike against North
Vietnam in February of that year. Further deployments of the aircraft to the
area left just five F100 squadrons in the United States.
Various modifications were made to the aircraft affectionately called "Hun"
or "Lead Sled" by its pilots and mechanics over the early years, gradually
improving night bombing capability, firing systems and target-marking
systems. The single-seat model D was good at top cover and low attack, and
could carry a heavy load of munitions.
Moriarty was attached to the 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Phan Rang
Airbase in South Vietnam. On March 22, 1971, Moriarty was assigned a mission
over Laos in Savannakhet Province. During the mission, about 5 miles south
of the city of Sepone, Moriarty's aircraft was struck by hostile ground fire
while over the target and exploded in a burst of fire.
According to the Department of the Air Force, "evidence of death was
received..on 23 May 1972 and [Moriarty's] status was changed to killed in
action at the time of the incident." The nature of the evidence received is
not specified, but Moriarty's remains were never recovered.
Moriarty was listed as killed, body not recovered. He is among nearly 2500
Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The cases of
some, like Moriarty, seem clear - that they perished and cannot be
recovered. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of
Americans are still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to
secure their freedom.
In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of
our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign
their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?