Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to communicate with Tom Hanton (Valent 04B) who was taken prisoner during this incident. Tom has been very open and has been willing to give me information on what certainly has have been a very painful time for him. I thank him greatly for taking the time to contribnute this material.

[Edited to remove personal information not germain to the SAR discussion]

I was Valent 04B. Yes, Rick McDow (Valent 03 B) and I were scarfed up and spent 9 months as guests in the Hilton and Zoo POW camps in Hanoi.

After a rather violent ejection, I landed about 100 yards from a small village and was able to E & E for an hour or so. I can give you a lot more details for your web site, but I'm pretty busy at work right now. I've lost contact with Rick McDow. All I know is he's retired from the Air Force. I will pass on your email address to another con who can probably help. The fast fac pitter who worked our SAR is also a friend who can lend you a hand -- Tony Marshall.

BTW No midair, even though I'd heard that's what our flight lead (another story) reported. We were hosed by two Mig 21's (in trail) that were going warp 8, low through the valley. Lead got us (Valent 04), trailer got Valent 03. Tony Marshall, the Fast Fac was bagged about two weeks later. I roomed with him so got an eye witness to the shootdown. We shouldn't have been there at the time. Yet another story. The whole day was a goat rope that will take a few brewskys, margaritas, or scotches. I retired in the DC area after 25 years.

I didn't know [Valent] 03 also went down until after I found a place to hide and turned on my radio. I had severe wind blast damage to my right eye (helmet- visor down!, watch, and gloves all sucked off during ejection) so had weak depth perception while in the chute. When I realized my glide path was directly into a village located in the valley SE of a small mountain, I did the 4 line cut and worked my way east between two rice paddies. Three guys on opposite side of western rice paddy shot at me while I descended--another reason to go east! I think 4a and both 3a & b were north of that mountain.

I heard you, [Valent] 03a and other airborne SAR forces and made two transmissions before I was snatched. Judging from the sounds from the other side of the mountain and air activity I believe I was snatched while you were picking up 03a. After my capture I was taken up a small creek bed just south of the village where we (me and the 3 farmers/villagers who captured me -- same guys who did the shooting) hide for about an hour.






(l to r) 1Lt Byron Hukee, Capt. Larry Highfill (Sandy 07), Maj Robert C. Miller (Valent 03A),
Dr. (LtCol) Robert Lockeridge (combat flight surgeon).
Major Miller was on short notice leave from the NKP clinic on the night of his rescue.





The Valent 03/04 SAR as reported in the 7th Air Force paper