Name: Lee Edward Nordahl
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Date of Birth: 18 June 1939
Home City of Record: Choteau MT
Date of Loss: 20 December 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205806N 1070400E (XJ931196)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RA5C
Refno: 0215

Other Personnel In Incident: Guy D. Johnson (remains returned 1977)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. 2020

REMARKS: DEAD/AR 6 918 7587 74

SYNOPSIS: LCdr. Guy D. Johnson was the pilot of a Vigilante (RA5C version)
assigned a reconnaissance mission near Hon Gay city in Quang Ninh Province,
North Vietnam on December 20, 1965. His co-pilot on the mission was Lt.JG
Lee E. Nordahl. The Vigilante carried reconnaissance equipment and was to
gather intelligence over North Vietnam, which would subsequently be fed into
shipboard computers for later mission planning.

During the mission, the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed.
Intelligence was received later which indicated that the two crewmen were
dead, but was not totally confirmed, and they were listed Missing in Action.

In 1977, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Guy D. Johnson and
returned them to American control. The obvious question is, if Johnson was
recovered, why not Nordahl? For 12 years, the Vietnamese have denied
knowledge of the fate of Guy Johnson and Lee Nordahl, even though the U.S.
believes the Vietnamese could account for them.

Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese
"stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous
times. Was Johnson waiting in a casket, for just such a moment?

Even more disturbing are the over 10,000 reports received by the U.S.
relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have
examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the
conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Could
Nordahl be among them?

Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it
really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as
reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in
Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically
expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As
long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive,
and why they aren't home.

Guy D. Johnson was promoted to the rank of Captain and Lee E. Nordahl to the
rank of Lieutenant Commander during the period they were maintained missing.

Lynn Michaels was 11 when she purchased a POW bracelet with Nordahl's ... I wore Lee's POW bracelet to school everyday during this war. Watched ...



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On December 20, 1965, an RA-5C Vigilante (bureau number 151624) carrying two crew members took off from the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) on a bomb damage assessment mission to a target area north of Haiphong, North Vietnam. Overcast weather limited visibility and hampered the crew's scheduled radio call with a visual assessment of the target area, prior to its intent to rejoin an escort aircraft. No radio transmission was received after the Vigilante passed the coastal entry point, and the plane never rejoined its escort. The target area was heavily defended by the enemy, preventing search and rescue efforts for the missing aircraft and its crew. After the war, the pilot's remains were located and identified; however, the navigator remains missing.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Lee Edward Nordahl entered the U.S. Navy from Montana and served in Reconnaissance Attack (Heavy) Squadron 13. He was the navigator of the Vigilante when it disappeared on December 20, 1965, and efforts to locate or identify his remains have been unsuccessful. Following the incident, the U.S. Navy promoted LTJG Nordahl to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (LCDR). Today, Lieutenant Commander Nordahl is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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