Name: Connie Mack Gravitte g385p
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Air Force
Unit: 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 12 July 1933
Home of Record: Ca-vel, NC
Date of Loss: 17 June 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 130112N 1092333E (CQ398257)
Click on corrdinates to view (2) maps
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: C130E "Hercules"
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald E. Siegwarth; Ralph B. Cobbs; Jack I. Dempsey; Stanley J. Freng; Edward L. Romig; M. J. Savoy; Robert A. Cairns; Gene K. Hess; Curtis D. Collette; Oley N. Adams; and Larry E. Washburn (all missing); Clement O. Stevenson, Jr. and Claiborne P. McCall (remains recovered)


SYNOPSIS: The Lockheed C130 Hercules, or "Herc" for short, was multi-purpose propeller driven aircraft used as a transport, tanker, gunship, drone controller, airborne battlefield command and control center, weather reconnaissance and electronic reconnaissance platform; as well as search, rescue and recovery aircraft.

In the hands of the "Trash Haulers," as the crew of the Tactical Air Command transports styled themselves, the C130 proved to be the most valuable airlift instrument in the Southeast Asia conflict. They were so valuable, in fact, that Gen. William Momyer, 7th Air Force Commander, refused for a time to let them land at Khe Sanh when the airstrip was under fire from NVA troops surrounding the base. The C130 was critical in resupplying American and allied troops in this area, and when the Hercules could not land, it delivered its payload by means of a parachute drop.

On 17 June 1966, Lt. Cmdr. Ralph B. Cobbs, pilot; Lt. JG Donald E. Siegwarth, co-pilot; Lt. JG Edward L. Romig, navigator; ADJ2 Curtis D. Collette, flight mechanic/jet engines; YN2 Jack I. Dempsey, radio operator; ADR2 Stanley J. Freng, flight mechanic/reciprocating engines; Lt. JG Clement O. Stevenson, Jr., crewman; and AN M. J. Savoy, crewman; comprised the crew of a C130E aircraft conducting an operational airlift mission. The mission originated at Moffett Naval Air Station, California; proceeded to Kadena Airbase, Okinawa, Japan; then to Cam Ranh Bay Airbase, South Vietnam. On the return flight, they departed Cam Ranh Bay Airbase at 0215 hours with its crew of eight and 6 passengers all members of the US Air Force. They were: 1st Lt. Claiborne P. McCall, Capt. Connie M. Gravitte, SSgt. Oley N. Adams, SSgt. Robert A. Cairns, SSgt. Gene K. Hess and AFC Larry E. Washburn.

Roughly 20 minutes after takeoff, the USS Fortify, a US Navy gunboat, witnessed an explosion at approximately 1000 feet above the water with a subsequent explosion upon impacting the water. Debris and fuel remaining on the surface of the water after the crash burned for approximately 30 minutes. The location of the crash was 43 miles northeast of Nha Trang, 16 miles south-southeast of Tuy Hoa, and 3 miles east of Lang Thuong, Phu Yen Province, South Vietnam.

The USS Fortify was on the scene within minutes and immediately initiated rescue efforts, to include coordinating both surface and air search activities. The search operation was successful in recovering the remains of Claiborne P. McCall and Clement O. Stevenson, Jr.; however, they were unable to locate any trace of the rest of the crew and passengers. At the time the extensive search effort was terminated on 21 June 1966, the remaining twelve men were listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

Because this incident occurred far out to sea and in relatively deep water, the search and rescue (SAR) personnel believed no remains could be recovered by enemy forces. The fate of the remaining crew and passengers aboard the Hercules is not in doubt, and it appears there's little to no chance of recovering their remains. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.

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.