|Name:||William Roy Pearson|
|Rank/Branch:||Sergeant/US Air Force|
|Unit:||37th Air Rescue/Recovery
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||18 April 1951|
|Home of Record:||Warner, NH|
|Date of Loss:||06 April 1972|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered|
|Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:||HH53C "Super Jolly Green"|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||John H. Call, Peter H. Chapman, Roy D. Prater, Allen J. Avery and James H. Alley|
REMARKS: Crash Fire - Air Search neg -J
SYNOPSIS: On the afternoon of 2 April 1972 an EB66E aircraft with a crew of 6, call sign "Bat 21", was shot down while on a pathfinder escort mission for a cell of B52s who were conducting a bombing mission near the DMZ. One member of that crew, Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton, was able to establish voice communication with other flight members almost immediately.
This was no ordinary flight crew, and its members would be prize catches for the enemy because of the military knowledge and experience each possessed. It became critical to the US to locate and recovery any survivors before the Vietnamese could. A massive and elaborate rescue operation was conducted to locate and recover Hambleton. Ultimately, after 12 days on the ground, he was rescued; but not before three other aircraft were shot down while participating in the overall operation. The first two were:
2 April: US Army UH1H rescue helicopter was shot down with 1 man wounded, captured and released during Operation Homecoming, and three crew members missing in action.
3 April: US Air Force OV-10A shot down with one man rescued after 12 days of escaping and evading capture, and the other captured and released during Operation Homecoming.
On 6 April another rescue mission was launched from DaNang, South Vietnam. The crew of the Super Jolly Green consisted of Capt. Peter Chapman, pilot; 1st Lt. John Call, co-pilot; TSgt. Roy Prater, flight engineer; Sgt. William Pearson, pararescueman; TSgt. Allen Avery, pararescuemen; and Sgt. James Alley, photographer. The Vietnamese knew the Americans were moving heaven and earth the reach Hambleton so while they continued to try to capture him, they also moved in units to attack Hambleton's would be rescuers. When the HH53C got within gun range, the VC/NVA shot it down. Other flight members saw it struck by the ground fire, crash and burn. They could find no evidence that any of the crew survived the crash and because of the heavy enemy presence, no attempt could be made to recover the crew.
Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 17,000 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.
Military personnel in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight 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.