PLASSMEYER, BERNARD HERBERT "BERNIE"

Name:  Bernard Herbert "Bernie" Plassmeyer 
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Marine Corps
Unit:  Marine Attack Squadron 311
Chu Lai, South Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 05 May 1945 (Westohalia, MO)
Home of Record: Freeburg, MO
Date of Loss: 11 September 1970 
Country of Loss:  South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates:  161035N 1071550E (YC369920)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  A4E "Skyhawk"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   The Douglas A4 Skyhawk was a single-seat light attack jet flown by both land-based and carrier squadrons, and was the US Navy's standard light attack aircraft at the outset of the war. It was the only carrier-based aircraft that did not have folding wings as well as the only one which required a ladder for the pilot to enter/exit the cockpit. The Skyhawk was used to fly a wide range of missions throughout Southeast Asia including close air support to American troops on the ground in South Vietnam. Flying from a carrier was dangerous and as many aircraft were lost in "operational incidents" as in Combat.

In June 1967 Bernard Plassmeyer received a commission in the Marine Corps, and on 21 March 1969 he received the wings of a Marine Aviator. Because of his exceptional flying ability, he was selected to receive the Orville Wright Achievement Award for outstanding performance as a Marine Corps aviator. He received that award on 29 August 1969.

In February 1970, then 1st Lt. Bernard H. Plassmeyer arrived in Southeast Asia and was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 311, Chu Lai Airbase, South Vietnam. By early September, he had already completed nearly 100 combat missions and was preparing to return to the US after completion of his tour of duty.

On 11 September 1970, 1st Lt. Plassmeyer departed Chu Lai Airbase in a A4E Skyhawk (serial # 151165) on a night combat mission against enemy targets in the infamous A Shau Valley. At 0340 hours, as he made an attack run on a communist target in the extreme southern edge of the valley, his Skyhawk was struck by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire and crashed. The location of loss was approximately 3 miles east of the South Vietnamese border, 6 miles west of Tu Bat and 60 miles west-northwest of DaNang, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

Search and rescue (SAR) efforts were immediately initiated, but no trace of 1st Lt. Plassmeyer or his aircraft was located in the dense jungle covered valley or the mountain foothills just to the south of the target area. Because of the intense communist presence in the area, no ground search was possible. At the time SAR operations were terminated, Bernie Plassmeyer was listed Missing in Action.

Since the end of the Vietnam War over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam were asked to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

Bernard Plassmeyer graduated from Parks College of Aeronautical Technology, St. Louis University in 1966.