Name: Peter Arthur Grubb g037p
Rank/Branch: Major/US Air Force
Unit: 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Tan Son Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam

Date of Birth: 24 September 1942
Home of Record: South Hampton, NY
Date of Loss: 17 September 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170200N 1063900E (XD755875)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel in Incident: William L. Nellans (missing)


SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.

The RF4 version of the Phantom II is a reconnaissance aircraft outfitted for photographic and electronic reconnaissance missions. Other RF4s were equipped with infrared and side-looking radar that helped advance the technology of reconnaissance during the war. They were also used to fly target detection and bomb damage assessment missions throughout Southeast Asia.

On 17 September 1967, Capt. William L. Nellans, pilot; and then 1st Lt. Peter A. Grubb, weapons systems officer; comprised the crew of an RF4C, call sign "Nate," that departed Tan Son Nhut Airbase on a night photo reconnaissance mission. The intended target was 3 specified tracts of terrain located in the rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 4 miles north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Vietnam, 8 miles northeast of the North Vietnamese/Lao border, 33 miles north-northwest of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam; 14 miles southwest of Xuan Bo, 24 miles due east of Vinh Linh and 27 miles due south of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.

At 0212 hours, Capt. Nellans made contact with Waterboy, the command and control aircraft, notifying it they were in the target area. Weather conditions included 500-foot scattered cloud, 1000-foot overcast cloud base, 2 to 4 mile visibility in light rain and fog. At 0214 hours, Waterboy handed Nate flight off to the Forward Air Controller (FAC), Alleycat. At that time Capt. Nellans requested clearance into the target area at an altitude of 1000 feet. Clearance was granted and acknowledged. He then reestablished contact with Waterboy to request radar flight guidance following their photo pass. At this time their radar position was 180 degrees and 60 nautical miles east of Channel 109 - a ground radar station used to guide aircraft into and out of North Vietnam.

At approximately 0220 hours, Alleycat came up on Waterboy's frequency to advise the command and control aircraft of a change in route due to a SAM threat. Clearance to the final target was rescinded and acknowledged by Nate flight. Until 0230 hours, radar continued to tract the Phantom to a point 300 degrees and 30 nautical miles of Channel 109. Loss of radar contact caused no alarm since approximate position contact is generally lost on low altitude flights. Likewise, ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) aircraft and 2 Ironhand aircraft working the same general area reported no enemy radar tracking missions (launching of SAMs), nor did any of these aircrews hear any emergency survival beepers.

The next morning an electronic search effort was initiated of Nate flight's route detected no trace of the missing aircraft and crew. Since their fuel would have been exhausted at approximated 0500 hours, this effort searched an extended flight path covering approximately 100 nautical miles of their last known position that was over very rugged and steep mountains. The target itself was on the coastal shelf approximately 10 nautical miles wide adjacent to and to the east of the mountains. Nate flight's planned egress route would have been over water. At the time the search operation was terminated, both William Nellans and Peter Grubb were declared Missing in Action.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well 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.

American servicemen in Vietnam were called upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances both on and off duty, 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.