SULLIVAN, MARTIN JOSEPH
Name: Martin Joseph Sullivan
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 96, USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65)
Date of Birth: 28 January 1933
Home City of Record: Lawrence MA
Date of Loss: 12 February 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: Paul V. Carlson (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: LTCDR Martin J. Sullivan was a pilot assigned to assigned to
Fighter Squadron 96 aboard the aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE. On February
12, 1967, he launched in his F4B Phantom fighter aircraft with his Radar
Intercept Officer (RIO), LTJG Paul V. Carlson. The aircraft was on a local
intercept training mission in the Gulf of Tonkin in the vicinity of the USS
ENTERPRISE. Sullivan and Carlson were to conduct a pre-briefed simulated
aerial combat maneuver with their flight leader.
During the third intercept and after two turns, the aircraft commenced a
descending reversal at too low an altitude to complete prior to entry into
clouds. The aircraft was seen to enter a cloud overcast at 6500 feet in a
wings level, extremely nose-low attitude.
Lt. Sullivan appeared to have the aircraft under full control with the nose
coming up. It is suspected that he became disoriented upon entry into the
clouds and crashed into the sea. There was no indication of ejection
attempted by either crew member. No radio transmissions were heard, and
Search and Rescue efforts were immediately begun using aircraft assets from
the USS ENTERPRISE, USS BENNINGTON and USS BAUER. USS BENNINGTON
continued surface and air search throughout the night. An oil slick and debris were
seen, but no survivors or remains were ever found.
Carlson and Sullivan apparently did not survive the crash of their aircraft.
They are among nearly 2500 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the
Vietnam War. Their cases seem simple enough, although their families grieve
that their remains have never been returned to them for a hero's burial.
Tragically, thousands of reports indicate that Americans are still alive in
Southeast Asia, held prisoner and waiting for their country to bring them
home. Although it seems quite clear that Carlson and Sullivan are not among
them, one can imagine them proudly taking one more flight for their comrades
in distress. They could do no less. Can we?