Remains returned 1987, Identified February 1988

Name: Edwin Byron Tucker
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 24, USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA 31)
Date of Birth: 01 February 1935
Home City of Record: Baldwinville MA (family in MA and VA)
Date of Loss: 24 April 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205718N 1070524E (YJ173184)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F8C
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Refno: 0650

Source: Compiled 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 1998.


SYNOPSIS: On April 24, 1967, LtCdr. Edwin B. Tucker launched from USS Bon
Homme Richard on board an F8C Crusader aircraft accompanying eight A4
bombers that had targeted rail lines near Hon Gay City, Quang Ninh Province,
North Vietnam. Tucker's job was to draw anti-aircraft fire long enough to
allow the bombers to complete their bombing runs.

As Lt. Cdr. Tucker passed through 5,000 feet his plane took a direct hit by
85mm anti-aircraft fire. Tucker bailed out before the aircraft crashed, and
pilots in the bombers observed his fully opened parachute. Numerous reports
place Tucker safely on the ground near Hon Gay City, northeast of Hanoi.

Subsequent intelligence reports indicate that after landing, Tucker was
severely injured and taken to the city hospital at Hon Gay City where he
subsequently died of his wounds. Because this intelligence indicates that he
was captured, the U.S. Government placed Tucker in a Prisoner of War

A 1967 Nhan Dan newspaper article praised a Vietnamese peasant, who,
defending himself with only a hoe, overcame an "American pilot war
criminal". This article possibly correlates to Lt.Cdr. Tucker.

After his death, the flesh was removed from Tucker's body, and his skeleton
prepared and used as a teaching aid in the medical school of Quang Ninh
province in Hon Gay City. This information was provided by persons formerly
associated with either the medical school or the hospital, and reports were
received by the U.S. over a period of several years.

Tucker's status remained POW until 1974 until a "Presumptive Finding of
Death" (PFOD) occurred. Over the next 20 years, Vietnamese ignored repeated
requests that Tucker's remains be returned to the United States. LtCdr.
Tucker's remains were hanging at a teaching hospital where they were nothing
more than a skeletal scientific specimen to be poked and probed for whatever
medical secrets it held. Included in the case with Tucker's skeleton was his
flight helmet with his name stenciled across the front.

In late November 1988, Edwin B. Tucker's remains were repatriated after
family members and U.S. officials agreed not to disclose details about the
case that might embarrass Vietnam.

The peculiar case of Edwin B. Tucker brought outcries from those close to
the POW/MIA issue. They were outraged that an American hero could be so
callously displayed "under the nose of the U.S. for over 20 years". They
were further enraged that the U.S. had such weak bargaining power that the
only way Tucker's remains could be returned for an honorable burial was for
the Vietnamese' unspeakable actions to be ignored entirely.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities
believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive. "Little wonder,"
according to critics, "that these men are still prisoner. If the U.S. cannot
honorably negotiate the return of a skeleton they have known details of for
20 years, how can they manage the freedom of those who are alive? Who are we
trying to protect from embarrassment -- Vietnam or the U.S.?"

Edwin Byron Tucker graduated from Tufts University and was buried with full
military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Bamboo Cage, by Nigel Cawthorn

The Full Story of the American Servicemen still held hostage in South-East

..... The years of terrible uncertainty take their toll, but the eventual
resolution of an MIA case can be pretty damaging too. US Navy Commander
Edwin Bryon Tucker was flying a flak suppression mission over North Vietnam
on 24 April, 1967, when he was shot down. He was seen to have a 'good chute'
and there was every reason to believe that he had been taken prisoner. He
did not return during Operation Homecoming, but was still listed as a
prisoner in April, 1973. In fact, he'd been dead all along.
Refugee reports confirm that Tucker made it to the ground alive, but while he
was trying to untangle himself from his parachute a Vietnamese farmer ran up
and hit him on the head with a hoe Tucker was critically injured and the
Vietnamese, to their credit rushed him to hospital in Han Gai city. He died on
the operating table. The source for that was the theater nurse.
They took him and boiled his body in a vat, until the meat separated from the
bones. They bleached the bones and connected them together with wire to make a
complete skeleton which was hung in the city hospital as a teaching aid. Later
he was moved to....

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