|Name:||John Bethel Tapp|
|Rank/Branch:||Lieutenant Commander/US Navy|
USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
|Date of Birth:||06 September 1933 (Harrodsburg, KY)|
|Home of Record:||Harrodsburg, KY|
|Date of Loss:||23 March 1966|
|Country of Loss:||North Vietnam/Over Water|
|Loss Coordinates:||084402N 1081904E (BK049664)|
|Status in 1973:||Killed/Body Not Recovered|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||(none missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A4 Skyhawk was a single seat attack jet flown by both land-based and carrier squadrons, and was the U. S. Navy's standard light attack aircraft at the outset of the war. The Skyhawk was used to fly a wide range of missions throughout Southeast Asia including close air support to American troops on the ground in South Vietnam. Flying from a carrier was dangerous and as many aircraft were lost in "operational incidents" as in combat.
After completing his combat mission over North Vietnam, Lt. Cmdr. Tapp made a night carrier controlled approach to the USS Enterprise. As he attempted to land on the carrier's rolling deck, his Skyhawk did not engage the arresting cable and continued off the flight deck at a speed too slow to allow the pilot to climb for altitude. The aircraft crashed into the sea and broke apart on impact.
As part of the standard operating procedures during carrier takeoffs and landings, search and rescue (SAR) helicopters were already airborne. As soon as the emergency alert was given, SAR efforts were immediately initiated. The wreckage was found in the water and positively identified. Due to the condition and amount of wreckage found, the US Navy indicated there was no chance for survival. Further, it indicated that John Tapp's remains could not be recovered. At the time the formal search operation was terminated, John Tapp was reported as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
The location of loss was approximately 50 miles north of the 17th parallel that constituted the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam. It was also 105 miles east-northeast of the major North Vietnamese port city of Dong Hoi and 180 miles southeast of Vinh.
The hard reality is due this type of aircraft mishap, there is virtually no chance that John Tapp's remains can ever be recovered and returned to his family, friends and country. Above all else, Lt. Cmdr. Tapp has a right not to be forgotten by the nation for which he gave his life.
For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different. Since the end of the Vietnam War, 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 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.