VQ-1, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One

Wall of Valor, Aircraft Accidents and Crashes


Complied by AMHC (AW) John D. Herndon (Retired), VQ-2 Member 1980-1991, 1996-1999 and Numerous Joint VQ-1 Detachments

The views and opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Department of the Defense or the US Navy!


Thanks to Capt. Don C. East (Ret) for allowing me to use his "History of VQ-1" published in the Tailhook Associations magazine "The Hook" spring 1987 issue.    This history can be found on the www.coldwar.org web site. 

 Historian and Author: Capt. Don C. East USN (Ret) Former VQ-2 and VPU-1 Commanding Officer, creekstreefarms2@yahoo.com

Webmaster and  Site Historian AMHC (AW) John D. Herndon, USN (Ret), vq2sandeman@hotmail.com

My thanks also to Chuck Huber for his VQ-1 Crash and Accident data research and numerous other previous VQ-1 members for their assistance with eyewitness accounts, their personal remembrances and their photographs to this effort

We thank Ricky Scott, VQ-2er for hosting this web site

                                                                                                                                  "Our Eyes In The Sky"

On a day long ago,  In a far-away land, You rose to the skies, To obey a command. While we who were here In our safe, secure place, Never knew of the danger, Never knew what you'd face.

We live in a land That today is still free, Who can measure the gift To mankind and to me? Our "Eyes in the Sky", Looking down from above, We hope you can see What you gave us in love.

On a day long ago, In a far-away land, When you rose to the skies To obey a command.

Chrystal Krueger Sinn, June, 1997

VP-6 Predecessor to VQ-1 

P2V  BUNO ?.

November 06, 1951. While involved in a special electronic reconnaissance mission aircraft was lost to hostile fire. The Neptune was operating in international waters in the Sea of Japan off Russia's eastern coast when it reported that it was being fired on by Soviet aircraft. The Neptune and its ten man crew then disappeared off Vladivostok, 32 miles outside Soviet claimed waters.

Fatalities: (10)

Killed Hostile Action, Names?

VP-22 Predecessor to VQ-1

P2V-5  BUNO ?.


January 18, 1953. While involved in a special electronic reconnaissance mission in support of the United Nations Mission in Korea, keeping watch over Formosa, the aircraft was lost to hostile fire. The Neptune was shot down by Red Chinese anti-aircraft fire off Swatow in the Formosa Straight .

Fatalities: (7)

Killed Hostile Action, Names?

VP-19 Predecessor to VQ-1

P2V-5  BUNO ?.



September 04, 1954. While involved in a special electronic reconnaissance mission in the Sea of Japan, the aircraft was lost to hostile fire. The mission was flown over international waters off the Russian coast.  The Neptune departed its base shortly before 1400 local time, conducting a normal mission until shortly after 1812. At that time the aircraft was at 8,000 ft, speed 180 kts on a heading of 067. At that time the aircraft was over international waters southeast of Cape Ostrovnoi, 33 nautical miles from Soviet territory . Suddenly and without warning two Soviet Mig-15 jet aircraft approached the lumbering Neptune from the rear and opened cannon fire. The P2V pilot immediately went into a sharp right turn away from the Soviet landmass and entered a steep dive of 2,000-3,000 feet per minute in an attempt to evade the attackers. The skilled Navy pilot finally reached a protective cloud bank after suffering at least three more firing passes from the Soviets.  After the attacking jets turned back toward land, the Neptune, with its port wing burning, was ditched into the sea. Nine of the ten crewmembers made their way from the doomed aircraft into the survival raft.  Tragically, ENS Roger H. Reid was trapped in the sinking P2V while attempting to put out an additional raft.

Survivors (9)

Fatalities: (1)

Killed Hostile Action, ENS Roger H. Reid.


VP-9 Predecessor to VQ-1 

P2V-5  BUNO ?.



June 22, 1955,  While on a electronic reconnaissance mission the aircraft was fired on by two Soviet Mig-15s while operating in the Bering Sea, The Migs cannon attacks set fire to the Neptunes starboard engine and forced it to crash land on St Lawrence Island, Seven of the ten crewman were injured.


 PR- ?, P4M-1Q  BUNO ?



July 1956, A catastrophic accident was prevented by the flying skills of LT J. Edixion, while inflight one og the Mercator's reciprocating engines fell completely from the aircraft, sending the plane into a flat spin.  Through a display of aeronautical skill and determination, Edixion was able to recover from the spin at 3,000 ft with the aid of the auxiliary jet engines.  He then limped the crippled P4M for 100 miles into Naha AFB at Okinawa.  The only crewman injured during the freak incident was LT Edixion who sprained his ankle as he stepped from the aircraft after making the successful landing.


 PR- ?, P4M-1Q  BUNO 124362.




August 22, 1956,  While on a night mission from NAS Iwakuni, Japan, this aircraft  disappeared at night after reporting an attack by hostile aircraft 32 miles off the coast of China (near Wenchai) and 180 miles north of Formosa. There were no survivors of the 16-man crew. Wreckage and one body were recovered by Dennis J. Buckley (DDR 808)

Fatalities:  (16)

Killed Hostile Fire:

LCDR Milton Hutchinson, LCDR JamesW.Ponsford, LTJG James B. Deane, LTJG. Francis A. Flood, Jr, AT2 Donald Wayne Barber, AO2 Warren Edgar Caron, AT3 Jack Albert Curtis, AT1 William Frederick Haskins, AO3 William Michael Humbert, AD1 H.E. Lounsbury, AT1 Albert Perry Mattin, AT2 Carl Edwin Messinger, AE2 Wallace Powell, AT3 Donald Eugene Sprinkle, AT2 Leonard Strykowski, and AD3 Lloyd Lewayne Young


PR-9, P4M-1Q BUNO ?.



January, 1958,  Collapsed nose gear at NAS Atsugi Japan.


PR-1, A3D-1Q BUNO 130363.




January, 1959,  Landed on Port Main and Nose gear with minimum damage after Right Main Mount failure at MCAS Iwakani.

PR-2, A3D-1Q BUNO 130362.


May 28, 1959, Aircraft was on a nighttime practice Tacan approach to Iwakuni  when it apparently stalled at about 5,000 ft during the inbound turnn aircraft crashed into Sea of Japan near MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Aircraft was scrapped.

Fatalities: (4)
LCDR. Burton W. Decker, Jr., LTJG. Allan F. DeWitt, AT1 Lawrence A. Coburn, AT2 Charles F. Stickels.


 PR- ?, P4M-1Q  BUNO?


June 16, 1959, Aircraft was on a routine recce mission over the Sea of Japan off the North Korean coast.  While the Mercator was at 7,000 ft off Wonsan, North Korea, two MIGs attacked with cannon fire.  A few moments later, the tailgunner, 20 year old PO2 Eugene Corder, collapsed with more than 40 shrapnel wounds. Now totally unarmed, the Mercator continued to be attacked by the MIGs at LCDR Donald Mayer dove for the deck in an attempt to escape. By the time Mayer reached 50 ft altitude above the Sea of Japan , the P4M's two starboard engines and rudder had been shot away.  On the way down the copilot. , LCDR Vince Anania, could see the Red Stars painted on the fuselages of the North Korean fighters as they made six more passes at the crippled P4M.  The Mercator was barely able to limp back to Japan and make an emergency landing at Miho Air Base. LCDR Anania was a former all-American footbsll player at the Naval Academy and his extraordinary strength was a significant factor in keeping the cripple plane airborne. Petty Officer Corder recovered from his wounds, receiving a Purple Heart.  VQ-1 records show DFC's were presented to the pilot and copliot, while Air Medals went to the remainder of the crew.



PR-?, A3D-2Q BUNO 144853. 


November 27, 1959, Lost at sea, ARTC Wake Island heard transmission: "Will bail out in approximately 15 minutes, unable to find Wake Island". No wreckage found. This was a new aircraft being delivered to Guam, the crew stopped by Whidbey Island to pick up Christmas Gifts.

Fatalities: (4)
CDR. Francis J. Suhare, LTJG. Donald L. Schillinger, AD1 Robert C. Taylor, AMS1 Joseph D. Dulany.




December 1959, A severe windstorm hit Air Base at Shemya, Alaska, heavy damaged to the hangar and the P-2V5-F was stricken.

PR-9, A3D-2Q BUNO 146456. 


January 13, 1961, Aircraft was lost while conducting a routine training mission at Atsugi Japan, Normal ASR approach. Crossed threshold ~ 50 feet. Wave off was initiated. Left wing dropped followed by the nose and A/C collided with the ground, Aircraft Commander Check Ride was being performed.

Fatalities: (5)

LT Hugh P. Sams, LCDR Ashley R. Hodge, AMS1 Edward Taylor and AO3 James O. Cladry. AMS1 Taylor died in the hospital 34 minutes after crash.

PR-24, EC-121M BUNO 135747. 


August 22, 1965 Aircraft crashed on landing at Atsugi Japan, Port main landing gear blew off at the main trunion where it attaches to the wing. Aircraft was a strike.   From Dick Frantz: "I was plane captain on PR24, Bureau #135747.  We were on our 12th touch and go when I heard a loud “bang.”  At first, I thought we had blown a tire but then the port wing kept dropping down.  I then thought we had lost a wheel.  When the port tip tank started touching the ground, I immediately knew that it wasn’t a wheel.  Come to find out, the port gear had severed from the upper trunion underneath the port wing; therefore, causing the port gear to fly over the upper random and landed 500 feet from the aircraft. The aircraft kept going down the runway, pulling to the port side.  Onlookers said there were flames trailing from the port tip tank, but when we veered off the runway and got into the dirt, the flames extinguished. When the aircraft finally started veering off the runway into the first, it almost hit the wheels watch shack.  The sailor inside was a “fast” Navy guy, as he quickly ran because there were props still turning on the starboard side of the aircraft.  He was lucky! When the aircraft finally stopped, there were 7 members aboard; 6 opened the “over the wing” emergency exit and went down the port wing and jumped off. Our radioman, the 7thmember, went out the starboard side and jumped off the high side of the wing and broke his ankle.  He wasn’t lucky. All survived with memories".  Dick Frantz, AMH2 Plane Captain

PR-11, A3D-2Q BUNO  144257.



June 6, 1967, Aircraft ran off the runway at Atsugi, in an aborted take off...Crew survived:  After “roll out”, the Pilot (Lcdr Peterson) got a “GO” at the 1,000’ marker and a “NO-GO” at the 2,000’ marker. Lcdr Peterson completed a near perfect “Take-Off Abort.” But, he had left the “hytrols” “OFF”! The Starboard Main Mount got so hot, when the brakes were applied, that it blew completely off of the aircraft. Then the extended nose gear collapsed and the shimmy dampener came through the lower escape hatch. After that, the Port Main Mount and Strut “pancaked” out to the port side and we were sliding on the lower fuselage. Our salvation was catching the cable at the 8,000’ marker. That stopped the slide we were in, we straightened out and slide across a taxiway. The crew proceeded to egress through the upper hatch after the A/C seemed to catch on fire. But it was just smoke and dust from the field we stopped in. Short of the barricade landing, this was the most frightening experience I was involved in, mainly because we were helpless and it lasted what seemed like an eternity. LCDR Peterson, LT. Dixon, LT. Henry Schultz, ADJ3 Kopsie, AT1 Bennett, AQB2 Forest, CTT2 Dotter.

PR-21, EC-121M, BUNO 135749.


April 14, 1969, Aircraft with a crew of 30 were lost to hostile fire from two North Korean MiG fighters.  Aircraft took off from Atsugi and headed northeast for a routine electronic reconnaissance mission off the North Korean coast. The flight plan called for the crew to proceed to a point off Musu Peninsula where they were to fly elliptical orbits, each about l20 miles long. At 1350, a little less than seven hours after takeoff, a U.S. Air Force tracking station monitoring the flight detected two new blips as a pair of North Korean MiGs rapidly closed on the unarmed VQ-1 aircraft. Although a prearranged message was sent to Overstreet ordering him to abort his mission, as the lumbering EC-121M turned away it was shot down southeast of Chongjin, North Korea, with a loss of all thirty crewmen. Only two bodies were subsequently recovered, those of LTJG Joseph R. Ribar and AT1 Richard E. Sweeney.

Fatalities: (30)
LCDR. James H. Overstreet, LT. John N. Dzema, LT. Dennis B. Gleason, LT. Peter P. Perrottey, LT. John H. Singer, LT. Robert F. Taylor, LTJG. Joseph R. Ribar, LTJG. Robert J. Sykora, LTJG. Norman E. Wilkerson, ADRC Marshall H. McNamara, CTC Frederick A. Randall, CTC Richard E. Smith, AT1 Richard E. Sweeney, AT1 James Leroy Roach, CT1 John H. Potts, ADR1 Ballard F. Conners, AT1 Stephen C. Chartier, AT1 Bernie J. Colgin, ADR2 Louis F. Balderman, ATR2 Dennis J. Horrigan, ATN2 Richard H. Kincaid, ATR2 Timothy H. McNeil, CT2 Stephen J. Tesmer, ATN3 David M. Willis, CT3 Philip D. Sundby, AMS3 Richard T. Prindle, CT3 John A. Miller, AE3 LaVerne A. Greiner, ATN3 Gene K. Graham, CT3 Gary R. DuCharme, SSGT Hugh M. Lynch, (US Marine Corps).


 PR-26, EC-121M , BUNO 145927.


March 16, 1970, crashed at DaNang AFB Vietnam after flight from Tainian, Taiwan. Aircraft had engine #1 trouble and was returning to DaNang, while landing another aircraft taxied into the runway, forcing an attempted overshot. The aircraft appeared to bank and go out of control as it was about to land.  It crashed into a revetment and large maintenance hangar on the airbase, destroying the hangar and an F-4 Phantom.  It then burst into flames and was destroyed, 23 of 31 killed.

Fatalities: (23)
LCDR. Harvey C. K. Aiau, LCDR. Harry C. Martin, LT. George L. Morningstar, LT. Robin A. Pearce, LTJG. James M. Masters, Jr., LTJG. Charles E. Pressler, LTJG. Jean P. Souzon, ADRC William John Risse, ADR1 Arthur Simmons, ADR1 Donald W. Wilson, AT1 Larry O. Marchbank, AE2 Floyd E. Andrus III, ADR3 Gregary J. Asbeck, AMS2 William P. Bletsch, ATN2 Guy Thomas Denton, ATR2 Joseph S. Saukaitis, ATN2 John S. Schaefer, ADR2 Stuart J. Scruggs, ATN2 Barry M. Searby, ATN3 John Macy Birch, ATN3 Thurle E. Case, Jr., ATN3 Ben Allen Hughes, Jr., ATN3 Ralph S. Purdum.


CPO Robert K. Ishler, LT. Delivan Young, ATR2 Don Holder, LTJG. Val S. Watkins, ADR2 Hugh G. Shannon, AEAN Charles M. Bingham, ADR2 Stephen E. Westacott, AE2 Dean A. Merrill

PR 3, EA-3B BUNO 144855


September 17, 1973:  Enroute NAS Agana to NAS Cubi Pt. With no compass system, using DR navigation and vectors around weather, the aircraft became lost & requested HF D/F fix /steer. Crew bail out and rescued by JMSDF.

Survivors: (5)



PR-10, EA-3B BUNO BUNO 144854

During normal daytime flight operations in April/May 1975 onboard the USS Midway. The EA-3B was recovering from a normal sortie with Lt Goff at the controls, the A/C was attempting a daytime recovery and made six passes without trapping.  LT Goff then attempted in-flight refueling and could not plug.  LT Goff then declared a "Low Fuel" situation and the barricade was rigged. In attempting the barricade landing, LT Goff engaged the #1 arresting cable and then impacted the barricade. It was determined that the #1 cable prevented the A/C from going through the barricade.  The A/C was repaired at NAPI Cubi Point and flew again. There were no casualties.


PR- ?  EP-3E BUNO ?

1978/1979 EP-3E was returning from a mission over the Sea of Japan and encountered heavy thunderstorms on approach to Atsugi, leading edge departed the aircraft, landed in the street.  Investigation found that the bird had had a gripe (bleed air I think) that MIGHT have called for pulling the leading edge back on Guam and the metal smiths (or the jet mechs)  had pulled the screws but never broke the seal so it was still bonded to the rest of the wing.



PR 007, EA-3B BUNO 146450



August 4, 1982, Aircraft was lost in flight, disappeared over the Indian Ocean near Diego Garcia, while operating from the USS Ranger. The subsequent rescue and debrief of a single surviving crewmember. P02 Robert Lee Huff. indicated the EA-3B may have broken up in flight after control failure. They were presumed killed or lost at sea. A subsequent JAG investigation blamed the accident on a zero-gravity maneuver.

Fatalities: (6)
LT. Michail F. Brown, LT. Frank N. Kertscher, LTJG. David A. Pies, Terry D. Smith,  PO2 William B. Snider, PO3 Brian S. Watson.

PR-111, EA-3B BUNO 142672.


January 23, 1985, the VA-3B  disappeared from a radar tracking screen approximately 125 nautical miles north of Guam.  The subsequent JAG investigation, completed in September, reported the Skywarrior took off from Atsugi at about 1000 Guam time. Twenty minutes later the crew contacted the VQ-1 detachment at Atsugi and reported an air turbine motor (ATM) was malfunctioning. The VA-3B continued on its course and stayed in radio contact with Navy officials, first on Iwo lima, and then on Guam. At 1230 Guam time the navigator reported the starboard ATM was shut down and the port one was heating up. Seventeen minutes later the aircrew requested permission to descend from 33,000 to 20,000 ft. Four minutes later, at 1251, radar contact was lost with the stricken aircraft. A massive air and sea search and rescue effort failed to locate any trace of the VA-3B or its crew and passengers.  

An endorsement to the accident investigation by VADM James E. Service, Commander Naval Air Pacific, summed up by saying: “Although the exact cause of the mishap cannot be determined from available information, dual ATM failure with resultant flight control problems is the conclusion best supported by the circumstantial evidence.” The ATMs provide power for the hydraulic pumps, which in turn power the flight control surfaces.

Fatalities: (9)
CDR. John T. Mitchell, LCDR. Robert E. Delateur, LT. Carlos A. Miller, LT Marshall L. Laird, LTJG. Richard A. Thomson, AMSC John T. Clark, AEC David K. Nichols, 
AT3 Thomas J. Jorgenson, AD3 Thomas J. Degryse. Thus, CDR Mitchell became the first incumbent VQ-1 commanding officer to be killed in the line of duty.

PR-010, EA-3B BUNO 144854. 


June 01, 1987, Crashed during night FCLP's @ NAS Miramar Aircraft impacted the ground after turning downwind subsequent to take off.

Fatalities: (3)

LT. Dan Smith, LT. Madison and AT3 Herb Plath.

PR-32 EP-3E BUNO 156511.

On April 1, 2001, EP-3E had taken off on a mission from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. At about 09:15 local time, towards the end of the EP-3E's six-hour ELINT mission, two Chinese J-8s from Lingshui airfield, on the Chinese island of Hainan, approached the EP-3E as it flew at 22,000 feet (6,700 m) and 180 knots (210 mph), on a heading of 110°, about 70 miles (110 km) away from the island. One of the J-8s , piloted by Lt Cdr Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3. On the third pass, it collided with the larger aircraft. The J-8 broke into two pieces, while the EP-3E's radome detached completely and its No. 1 (outer left) propeller was severely damaged. Airspeed and altitude data were lost, the aircraft depressurized, and an HF antenna became wrapped around the tail of the plane. The J-8's tail fin struck the EP-3's left aileron forcing it fully upright, and causing the U.S. plane to roll to the left at 3-4 times its normal maximum rate.

The impact sent the EP-3 into a 30° dive at a bank angle of 130°, almost inverted. It dropped 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in 30 seconds, and fell another 6,000 feet (1,800 m) before the pilot, Lt Shane Osborn, got the EP-3's wings level and the nose up.  Once he regained control of the plane he "called for the crew to prepare to bail out."[ He then managed to control the aircraft's descent by using emergency power on the working engines, such that an emergency landing on Hainan became a possibility.

For the next 26 minutes the crew of the EP-3 carried out an emergency plan which included destroying sensitive items on board the aircraft, such as electronic equipment related to intelligence gathering, documents and data. Part of this plan involved pouring freshly brewed hot coffee into disk drives and motherboards.

The EP-3 made an unauthorized emergency landing at Lingshui airfield, after at least 15 distress signals had gone unanswered, with the emergency code selected on the transponder. It landed at 170 knots (200 mph), with no flaps, no trim, and a damaged left elevator, weighing 108,000 pounds (49,000 kg). Following the collision, the failure of the nose cone had disabled the No. 3 (inner right) engine, and the No. 1 propeller could not be feathered, leading to increased drag on that side. There was no working airspeed indicator or altimeter, and Osborn used full right aileron during the landing. Meanwhile, the surviving Chinese interceptor had landed there 10 minutes earlier.

Lt. Cdr. Wang was seen to eject after the collision, but the Pentagon said that the damage to the underside of the EP-3 could mean that the cockpit of the Chinese fighter jet was crushed, making it impossible for the pilot to survive. Wang's body was never recovered and he was declared dead.

The 24 crew members were detained and interrogated by the Chinese authorities.

Survivors; (24)