Name: John Murray Martin 
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Colonel/US Air Force 
Unit: 480th Tactical Fighter Wing 
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam                                  
Date of Birth: 17 June 1931
Home of Record: Glenshaw, PA 
Date of Loss: 20 November 1967 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 170800N 1072000E (YD135985)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps
Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel In Incident: James Badley (rescued) 


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.

On 20 November 1967, then Capt. John M. Martin, pilot; and 1st Lt. James "Jim" Badley, co-pilot; comprised the crew of the #2 aircraft in a flight of two, call sign "Crab 2," that departed DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam to conduct a morning forward air controlled strike mission over the southernmost region of North Vietnam, codenamed "Tally Ho."

When the flight arrived in the target area, Crab Lead established radio contact with the airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC) directing all missions in the region. After being given current mission information, the ABCCC handed Crab flight off to the onsite Forward Air Controller (FAC) who would direct the strike mission.

At 1025 hours, Crab flight was making an attack pass on a designated target located at YD083853 in a densely populated and heavily defended open area covered in rice fields south of the Ben Xe River, just to the east of Highway 1, approximately 1 mile west of Vinh Linh and 3 miles north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separated North and South Vietnam. Crab 2 was struck and badly damaged by enemy anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire that destroyed the Phantom's starboard engine. Capt. Martin climbed for altitude and declared an in-flight emergency as he proceeded toward the north-northeast and out to sea. At the same time Crab Lead requested research and rescue (SAR) aircraft that had been orbiting nearby to standby to recover the crew as soon as they ejected.

As the aircraft passed over the coastline, the FAC and Crab Lead observed one fully deployed parachute. 1st Lt. Badley's parachute was followed as he drifted away from the shoreline. Shortly thereafter he was picked up by a search and rescue helicopter roughly half a mile out to sea at coordinates YD123978. The other aircrews did not see a second parachute and heard no emergency radio beepers. The search effort continued for Capt. Martin, but was unsuccessful in locating the pilot or the aircraft's wreckage. At the time the formal SAR operation was terminated, John Martin was reported as Missing in Action.

Capt. Martin's last known location was very near the North Vietnamese island of Hon Co, approximately 8 miles due north of their target, 11 miles north of the DMZ and 31 miles southeast of the major port city of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.

If John Martin died due to the loss of his aircraft, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all humanly possible. However, if he survived, which was supported by the US military's belief that there was a strong potential that he could have successfully reached shore or been captured by North Vietnamese fishermen who were operating along the coastline; his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, 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.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam were called upon 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.