Remains Returned 14 August 1985 - ID Announced 30 October 1985

Name: Milton James Vescelius, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Date of Birth: 16 November 1934
Home City of Record: Milford MI
Date of Loss: 21 September 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205600N 1064300E (XJ784155)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Aircraft/Veicle/Ground: RF8G

Other Personnel in Incident: none missing

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 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: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in
Southeast Asia. Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of
Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North
Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder. The Crusader was used exclusively
by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S. Air Force pilot
reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier
fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war. The
aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were
the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used. The Charlie
carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions
as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes. The Echo model had a
heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were
used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability. The Echo
version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and
frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel. The RF-A models were equipped
for photo reconnaissance. The RF-G were also photographic versions, but with
additional cameras and navigational equipment.

The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar
fighters. Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or
destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding. 145 Crusader
pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and
released. The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war. In addition,
there were 16 pilots who went down on photographic versions of the aircraft.
Of these 16, seven were captured (six were released, one died in captivity).

Lt.Cdr. Milton J. Vescelius was the pilot of an RF8A on a combat mission
over North Vietnam on September 21, 1967. As he was about 5 miles
west-southwest of the city of Quang Yen, and near the borders of Thai Binh
and Quang Ninh Provinces, his aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed.
Vescelius was seen to eject, and other pilots in the area reported that when
he reached the ground he was surrounded by Vietnamese. The following day, a
Radio Hanoi broadcast described the incident and stated that the pilot had
been captured. The U.S. classified Milton Vescelius as a Prisoner of War.

For the next 6 years, Vescelius' family waited for the war to end. In 1973,
when 591 Americans were released from POW camps in Vietnam, Vescelius was
not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of him.

Then in August 1985, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Milton
Vescelius and returned them to U.S. control. For 28 years, he had been a
Prisoner of War -- alive or dead. The U.S. gratefully accepted the "gift" of
the remains of Milton Vescelius, and others which should have been returned
decades ago. We allowed the Vietnamese to politically choose the moment it
complied with that section of the agreements which ended American
involvement in the war in Vietnam.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.

                                 PROJECT X
                        SUMMARY SELECTION RATIONALE




RATIONALE FOR SELECTION: Two escort aircraft saw LCDR Vescelius standing on
the ground surrounded by about five North Vietnamese. A North Vietnamese
source reported the capture of a U.S. pilot in this area. No positive
evidence of LCDR Vescelius' death has been received to date.

REFNO: 0840 20 Apr 76


1. On 21 September 1967 LCDR Milton J. Vescelius Jr., was the pilot of an
RF8G (BUNO #-L44623) on a photo reconnaissance mission over Hai Phong,
North Vietnam. While flying in the vicinity of Hai Phong Harbor, LCDR
Vescelius' aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire and began
to break up. At about 1358 hours, (local time), LCDR Vescelius ejected. Two
escort aircraft overflew the area and saw LCDR Vescelius standing on the
ground surrounded by about five North Vietnamese. (Ref 1, 2, & 3)

2. In September 1972 an NVA rallier reported that in September 1967 he had
seen a captured U.S. pilot in North Vietnam in the vicinity of grid
coordinates (GC) Xi 765 105. The U.S. pilot had reportedly shot a
militiaman and was then beaten when captured. The U.S. pilot was evacuated
from the area in a vehicle. (Ref 4)

3. During the existence of JCRC, the hostile threat in the area precluded
any visits to or ground inspections of the sites involved in this case.
Details of this case together with information indicating enemy knowledge
of the case were turned over to the Four-Party Joint Military Team on 7
November 1973 with a request for any information which would assist in
determining status and resolution. No response was forthcoming. LCDR
Vescelius is currently carried in the status of Captured.


1. MSG (U), CTU 77.0.11, 210610Z Sep 67.

2. MSG (U), USS CORAL SEA, 211010Z Sep 67.

3. LTR (U), LT PHOTO RON 03, 23 Sep 67.

4. RPT (U), SAO #84-72, 18 Sep 72.

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