YUILL, JOHN HARRY
|Name: John Harry Yuill
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force, pilot [Blue 1]
Unit: 307th Strat Wing
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Boswell IN
Date of Loss: 22 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210125N 1055100E (WJ880210)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: Gary L. Morgan; William T. Mayall; David I.
Drummond; William W. Conlee; Louis H. Bernasconi (all released POWs). Only
B-52 crew recovered intact and alive.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 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.
REMARKS: RELSD 730329 BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs
were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House
Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all
U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in
Linebacker II flights generally arrived over Hanoi in tight cells of three
aircraft to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and
flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all
bombs fell on the military targets and not in civilian areas.
The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded
Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. The Christmas Bombings, despite press
accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots
involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes
against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S.,
had it desired, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting
an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward."
To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick
to a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictable B52 strikes were
anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however, flight
paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile threat from
Still, aircraft were shot down near the end of the campaign. On December 22,
1972, a B52 was shot down near Hanoi. Its crew included LTCOL John H. Yuill,
LTCOL Louis H. Bernasconi, LTCOL William W. Conlee, CAPT David I. Drummond,
1LT William T. Mayall, and TSGT Gary L. Morgan. This crew was exceptionally
fortunate--they were all were captured by the North Vietnamese. The captured
crew was held in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, at which time they were released
in Operation Homecoming. The U.S. did not know all of them had been captured.
Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at
Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapoa
Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with over
one thousand men flying the missions. However, the bombings were not conducted
without high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December
1972, 61 crewmembers onboard ten B52 aircraft were shot down and were captured
or declared missing. (The B52 carried a crew of six men; however, one B52 lost
carried an extra crewman.) Of these 61, 33 men were released in 1973. The
others remained missing at the end of the war. Over half of these survived to
Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports have been received relating to
Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The crew of
the B52 shot down on December 22 was lucky to have survived and only have a
few weeks imprisonment. Many authorities are now convinced that many Americans
are still held captive in Southeast Asia. It's time we found them and brought
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
EDITED November 1996 by request of Lt. Col. John Yuill (RET).
JOHN H. YUILL
Lieutenant Colonel - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 22, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
I was born and grew up in Boswell, Indiana. I was the oldest of six children.
After completing high school at Boswell, I acquired a junior accounting degree
from Indiana Business College in Lafayette, Indiana. I enlisted in the Air
Force in February 1954, completed navigator training, and was commissioned in
April 1955. I was a navigator in the 1708 Ferrying Group at McClellan AFB,
California from April 1955 until February 1958. I then attended pilot training
and graduated in June 1959.
My next assignment was F-86's at Perrin AFB, Texas. I then flew B-52's at
Altus AFB, Oklahoma from July 1960 until December 1966. My job positions were
copilot, pilot and instructor pilot. I flew F-102's at Perrin for a short time
before going to Grissom AFB, Indiana to fly the B-58 "Hustler." This enjoyable
assignment lasted from March 1967 until February 1970. During this time I flew
as a pilot and C.C.T.S. instructor pilot. Next assignment was to C.C.K.,
Taiwan for a tour in C-130's as a pilot and instructor pilot. This was from
May 1970 to July 1971 and most of this time was spent flying out of Saigon,
South Vietnam. I then went to Carswell AFB, Texas and B-52's once again. I
left Carswell TDY for Guam and Thailand in April 1972 flying missions over
Vietnam. Remained TDY, except for the month of October, until I was shot down.
My wife, Rose, was a Canadian R.N. working in Sacramento, California. I met
her in 1955 and we were married in April 1956. We have seven children: Suzi,
Kathy, Ricky, Mike, Denise, Dianne, Stefani. My mother, who lived in Fowler,
Indiana died in 1966. My father died in 1969.
[NOTE: John states his mother passed away in 1996 - NOT 1966]
My crew was B-52 wave leader the first night (December 18, 1972) of Linebacker
II. We were also wave leader the following night. We were flying our third
mission over Hanoi in four days when we were shot down. We were the only B-52
crew shot down over Hanoi that was recovered intact. All crew members suffered
minor injuries but no major ones. We were the only crew from Carswell AFB shot
down, and we had three Lt. Colonel crew members, which was unusual. Our
captors became very excited when they realized they had captured an entire
B-52 crew intact, especially with so many Lt. Colonels on it. We were heavily
interrogated as a result. I was threatened many times that my crew would be a
"show case" crew and tried as war criminals.
I was a prisoner only for a short period of time. I did receive humane
treatment and as a result of these two facts, I feel there is no way to
compare myself to those "real" POWs who were prisoners for many years. The POW
story is theirs to tell, not mine. I am honored to be associated with these
men. I cannot say enough about their courage, faith and leadership. I will say
that my short stay in Hanoi reaffirmed my faith in God, friends, and country.
They all performed magnificently!
My son Mike, became a A/F pilot, and flew B-52's.
In 1991, at Randolph AFB, I had my Freedom Flight: I flew #3 with my son
flying #4. In 1996 he was a B-1 pilot.
John Yuill retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel in
April 1979. He and his wife Rose reside in Texas.
No good options: Vietnam POW shares story of captivity
No good options: Vietnam POW shares story of captivity ... he became a prisoner of war with Airmen at Sheppard AFB as part of POW/MIA Day events.