Darwin Joel Thomas
Darwin was the second Bruin to be lost during Vietnam. He was also the only Bruin pilot and officer to be lost during the war.
On October 14, 1966, while flying off of the USS Oriskany CVW-16 two A-1H Skyraiders (these were the last prop driven attack aircraft in combat use) were conducting a night armed reconnaissance mission in a hilly area about 25 miles southeast of Tranh Hoa North Vietnam when they spotted light on a road. Ensign Thomas, in A-1H BuNo 139731 rolled in to attack the target, but failed to pull out before his aircraft impacted the ground and exploded.
It is thought that Darwin sustained damages to his aircraft or personal wounds that kept him from pulling out of his bombing run. Based on the information concerning his start of tour and casualty date this was his first and only combat mission.
Home of Record: Santa Clara, CA
Date of Birth: Wednesday, 04/28/1943
Marital Status: Married
Service: Navy (Reserve)
Grade at loss: O1
MOS: 1315 Unrestricted Line Officer (Pilot)
LenSvc: Between 2 and 3 years
Unit: VA-152, CVW-16, USS Oriskany
Start Tour: Friday, 10/14/1966
Incident Date: Friday, 10/14/1966
Cas Date: Friday, 10/14/1966
Age at Loss: 23
Remains: Body not recovered
Location: Tranh Hoa Providence, North Vietnam
Type: Hostile, Died
Reason: Air Loss, Crash – Land – Fixed Wing – Pilot
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