|Name:||Thomas Edwin Scheurich|
||Attack Squadron 35 USS Enterprise (CVA (N)-65)|
|Date of Birth:||19 August 1933|
|Home of Record:||Norfolk, NE|
|Date of Loss:||01 March 1968|
|Country of Loss:||North Vietnam/Over Water|
|Loss Coordinates:|| 203800N
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing In Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Richard C. Lannom|
SYNOPSIS: With the addition of the Grumman A6A Intruder to its inventory, the Navy had the finest two-man, all-weather, low-altitude attack/bombing aircraft in the world. It displayed great versatility and lived up to the expectations of those who pushed for its development after the Korean War. At the time it was the only operational aircraft that had a self-contained all-weather bombing capacity including a moving target indicator mode. In this role it usually carried a bomb load of 14,000 pounds and was used rather extensively in the monsoon season not only in South Vietnam, but also in Laos and over the heavily defended areas of North Vietnam. The Intruder was credited with successfully completing some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, and its’aircrews were among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
The lead aircraft’s crew was comprised of VA-35’s Squadron Commander, Cmdr. Glenn “Skipper” Kollman, pilot; and Lt. Cmdr. Johnny “Crosshairs” Griffin, bombardier/navigator. Lead’s target was the Thanh Hoa Bridge. The #2 aircraft’s crew consisted of Lt. Cmdr. Greg Young, pilot; and Lt. Bill “Turf” Siegel, bombardier/navigator. The target assigned to #2 and #3 aircraft was the Cam Pha military barracks located in the town of Cam Pha approximately 38 miles ENE of Haiphong and 90 miles due east of Hanoi.
As briefed, the three aircraft rendezvoused just off the North Vietnamese coast. The flight members established radio contact with the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) who provided them with current mission information. The crews also checked their aircraft’s systems and weapons before the ABCCC granted clearance to commence air operations against their respective targets.
While Cmdr. Kollman aircraft turned west toward Thanh Hoa, Lt. Cmdr. Young took the lead position in the flight of two on its way north to Cam Pha. The over water approach from the south was filled with numerous hazards. Hundreds of small islands rose up from the sea in rugged limestone karsts that varied in size and height that forced aircrews to be ever vigilant as they snaked their way northward between them.To complicate the situation more,it was very difficult to identify the coast line from the jagged mountain ridge located only 2 miles inland that also rose up sharply behind the target area. Because of the strategic importance of this heavily populated sector,the North Vietnameseconcentrated their coastal air defenses in overlapping anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) emplacements in various caliber configurations.
Lt. Cmdr. Young initiated his attack pass from 1500 feet. As #2 pressed forward dodging heavy AAA fire and jagged Karsts, they heard Tom Scheurich radio “inbound” as #3 began its own run in to the target. Lt. Cmdr. Young and Lt. Siegel successfully dropped their ordnance and returned to the rendezvous point southeast of Bao Lai Tao Island. Shortly thereafter, Cmdr. Kollman and Lt. Cmdr. Griffin joined with #2. The two Intruders waited for Lt. Cmdr. Scheurich and Lt. JG Lannom until their own fuel level became a consideration that forced them to return to the Enterprise.
At 1837 hours, Cy Scheurich and Tado Lannom’s aircraft was declared overdue and a full scale search and rescue (SAR) operation was initiated. It included a visual and electronic search of the mainland target area, the numerous small islands south of Cam Pha and the briefed return flight path to the carrier. When no trace of the Intruder of its aircrew could be located, the formal SAR effort was terminated and Cy Scheurich and Tado Lannom were declared Missing in Action.
The location of loss was arbitrarily established to be in the Gulf of Tonkin approximately 29 miles south-southeast of Cam Pha and southeast of the rendezvous point. However, the reality is no one knows where the Intruder actually disappeared or what caused its loss. If it was hit by the intense ground fire in the target area, the crew could have been forced to immediately eject and most certainly would have been captured.
If the Intruder sustained battle damage, but was still airworthy, Lt. Cmdr.Scheurich and Lt. JG Lannom would have attempted to return to the Enterprise. Under those circumstances, there is no way of knowing how long the crew was able to keep their Intruder in the air. They may have been forced to eject over water or over any one of the myriad of small islands, some of which were populated while others were not. On the other hand, there is no way of knowing if Cy Scheurich and Tado Lannom even had the opportunity to eject at all.
If Thomas Cy Scheurich and Richard Tado Lannom died in their loss incident, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all humanly possible. However, if they were able to eject, they most certainly could have been captured by enemy civilians or military forces located throughout the entire region;and their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.
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 America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Fighter pilots 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.