TEMPLIN, ERWIN BERNARD, JR.
Name: Erwin Bernard Templin, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Anti-Submarine Squadron 35, USS HORNET (CVA12)
Date of Birth: 24 December 1940
Home City of Record: Houston TX
Loss Date: 22 January 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 193958N 1072159E (YG481761)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: William Forman; Edmund Frenyea; Robert Sennett
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
Date Compiled: 15 March 2020
SYNOPSIS: In early 1966, there were several search and rescue (SAR) destroyers
parked off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. When the attack and
fighter people would egress, they would be there to assist a cripple or pick up
a guy who had to punch out or ditch. During the night when the strike activity
would ebb, the SAR DDs would steam around their small areas waiting for the next
day's activities. It was during these night and early morning hous that high
speed surface contacts would probe their positions. The "Stoof" (S2D) helped
provide air cover for these surface ships. The Stoof was technically an
anti-submarine aircraft, but had little call to exercise submarine missions in
Vietnam. There were only a few of such planes assigned to Vietnam at all.
If a ship thought its position was being probed by enemy boats, it would vector
the Stoof out over the target. The Stoof tactic was to drop a parachute retarded
flare from about 10,000 feet over the target, circle back around at a low
altitude (about 300 feet) and investigate. If the target was unfriendly, then
the S2 would engage and destroy it. There was a certain amount of risk involved
in these operations, as the Vietnamese PT boats had radar that enabled them to
strike with no visual contact.
In the dead of night on January 22, 1966, a Stoof launched from the USS Hornet
with pilot William S. Forman and crewmembers Edwin B. Templin, Robert R. Sennett
and Edmund H. Frenyea. Their mission was to investigate an unidentified bogie.
Their progress was under the advisory control of the USS BERKELEY, and no
unusual circumstances were reported.
About 6:45 AM the USS BERKELEY reminded the crew that their mission should be
concluded shortly and they should return to the USS HORNET. Receipt of this
information was acknowledged and it was reported that they had a surface contact
and would investigate before departing the area.
Shortly thereafter the aircraft disappeared from the radar scope of the USS
BERKELEY. This was not considered significant or alarming at that time as it was
believed the aircraft had gone beneath the radar to investigate its contact. It
is thought that the natural curvature of the earth caused the aircraft to go off
radar approximately five minutes before they were scheduled to return to the
HORNET. Their last known location according to coordinates was in the Gulf of
Tonkin about halfway between the coastal city of Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam and
the Chinese island of Hai Nan, although reports to some of the families placed
them much closer to the island - about 15 miles away. Within a few hours of the
disappearance, Radio Hanoi reported that an aircraft had been shot down near
Bach Long Vi Island, North Vietnam. The Navy did not classify the men missing as
Prisoners of War because this report could not be confirmed as accurate. The
last known location of the aircraft was about 30 miles from this island.
At 7:15 AM the USS BERKELEY notified the USS MAHAN that the aircraft should be
inbound to USS MAHAN enroute to the USS HORNET. Upon receipt of this information
the USS MAHAN tried unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft by radio and radar
and subsequently reported the situation to the USS HORNET. Shortly thereafter
search and rescue efforts were commenced and LCDR Forman and his crew were
reported missing at sea.
A close friend of Templin's was part of the effort. According to him, the
weather was clear, and there was not a puff of wind. The Gulf was so calm that
there was not a ripple on the surface, so that objects floating great distances
away could be seen. The search parties found no trace, no oil slick and no
debris indicating where the plane went down. According to Templin's friend, the
search went on for the remaining months he was on station. He says, "Our
squadron was uniquely qualified...we had the right kind of airplane and were
working in the immediate area and more importantly...we cared. We found
On February 1, 1966 the four-man life raft from the aircraft was found off the
coast of North Vietnam approximately 152 miles from the last known position of
the aircraft. The raft, which was identified by its serial number, bore no
evidence of having been used and did not show any signs of damage by fire or
gunfire. This particular raft is designed to automatically inflate when immersed
in salt water. On March 14, 1966 a flight helmet was found by a friendly fishing
junk and turned over to U.S. authorities. This helmet was picked up in the same
general area as where the life raft was located and has been identified as
belonging to Bernard Templin.
When Templin`s friend left Yankee Station and was steaming away to safer waters,
he was walking down a passageway and one of the Intelligence Officers from the
Flag stopped him. They went to a secure area and he told Templin's friend that
some very high-level intelligence had been forwarded to the ship identifying one
or more of the crew members from the aircraft as positively seen in North
Vietnam. Templin's friend naturally assumed that they were POWs. None of the
crew ever returned.
The four were maintained as missing until 1975, at which time a "finding of
death" was made on the crew based on no information to indicate they were alive.
Tragically, information has poured from Southeast Asia since the end of the war
regarding American prisoners still alive in captivity. The U.S. Government has
received nearly 10,000 such reports, yet seems unable to find the formula to
secure the freedom of those Americans.
Erwin Bernard Templin, Jr. is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy
2020- NO bio exists at DPAA.