F4 Pilot over Hainan

Vietnam 1965 1966

USS Reeves


Our Search and Rescue (SAR) position in the Tonkin Gulf  was such that we could view on radar the entire northern area of the gulf, including North of Haiphong and Hainan up to the Chinese border.  During one raid, one of the F-4s had made a run on a target near Hanoi, but failed to turn back south to come back to the carrier after the raid.  He was headed almost due East, and would overfly the coast of Hainan at 25,000 feet within 20 minutes or so when we started monitoring his flight. Efforts by the other F-4 pilots to contact the pilot were futile. They were calling to him on the radio, but could get no answer.  One pilot tried to catch up to him and get a visual, but had to give up the chase when he was bingo fuel, and would not have been able to catch up before making landfall over Hainan. 


We continued trying to wake him up and get him to turn South, but could get no response.  All we could do was watch as he continued East past the coast, maintaining his altitude and heading.  Shortly after he made landfall over  Hainan, he disappeared from the radar screen.  We never heard any further particulars. We were sure that he must have been killed or badly injured over Hanoi, then his plane shot down as he crossed the coast of Hainan, a propaganda vistory for the Chinese.