TORKELSON, LOREN HARVEY Deceased
Name: Loren Harvey Torkelson Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron Date of Birth: 22 May 1941 Home City of Record: Crosby ND (family in NE) Loss Date: 29 April 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205400N 1053430E (WJ598119) Loss coordinates Pollin: 205429N 1053430E (USG Records) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Other Personnel In Incident: George J. Pollin (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 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 2011.
REMARKS: RELEASED 730304 BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: On April 29, 1967 F4 Phantom pilot 1LT Loren H. Torkelson and backseater 1LT George J. Pollin departed Da Nang Airbase on a strike escort mission over North Vietnam. Their aircraft was number two in a flight of four. The F105 fighter/bombers they were escorting were to strike the Hanoi Bridge. The flight took the plane near a MIG fighter base and SAM missile sites. Over the target, they encountered fire from both, and took a hit in the rear of the plane. Torkelson's aircraft was seen to be hit by enemy fire, roll over, crash, and exploded. One partially opened parachute was seen by the crew of the lead aircraft. At this time, the flight was near the Red River in Ha Tay Province,
Shortly before taking off, George Pollin had phoned his brother back home. He told him he was volunteering for a combat mission because another co-pilot was ill. This, he said, would just bring him that much closer to coming home.
Pollin had already flown over 60 of the required 100 missions since joining the Air Force in November 1965. After graduating from flight school at the top of his class, he asked to be sent directly to Vietnam, rather than going to Germany first as scheduled. He was certain he would go to Vietnam sooner or later, and opted to go sooner. He didn't know how long he would have to stay.
It was later learned that Loren Torkelson had ejected and was taken prisoner by the Vietnamese. He was released in 1973, and in his debrief, Torkelson stated that he did not see a second parachute, and presumed that Pollin had gone down with the plane. Defense Department records indicate that Pollin's ejection seat was seen near the site of the crash, lending some hope that Pollin successfully left the plane. In the F4 aircraft, the backseater ejects first, then the pilot.
On December 20, 1990, the U.S. announced that remains had been returned by the Vietnamese and had been positively identified as being those of George J. Pollin. After 23 years, Pollin was finally home.
Thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government that Americans are still alive, held captive in Southeast Asia, yet official policy is that "no conclusive proof" has been obtained. Detractors allege the Government is debunking good information. While the possibility exists that Americans are being held against their will, there can be no question that we must do everything we can to secure their freedom. They deserve our best efforts.
Loren Torkelson died of a heart attack 17 Sept 1995.
Torkelson honored with Purple Heart By Cecile Wehrman
The family of the late Loren Torkelson has been given a Purple Heart in recognition of the injuries he endured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Divide County native was captured in Hanoi in April 1967, enduring six years of abuse and deprivation at the hands of his captors.
The Purple Heart was recently presented to Loren's younger brother, retired Col. Ryan Torkelson of Wyoming, and it now is in the hands of Loren's only child, Eric, and his young sons, who live in Fargo.....