|Name:||Norman Philip Westwood, Jr.|
|Rank/Branch:||Lieutenant/US Navy Reserves|
USS Coral Sea (CVA 43)
|Date of Birth:||08 August 1944 (Hartford, CT)|
|Home of Record:||West Hartford, CT|
|Date of Loss:||17 May 1970|
|Country of Loss:||North Vietnam/Over Water|
|Loss Coordinates:||182758N 1073700E (YF763436)|
|Status in 1973:||Killed/Body Not Recovered|
|Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:||F4B "Phantom II"|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||(none missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The USS Coral Sea participated in combat action against the communists in Vietnam as early as August 1964. In fact, in early 1965 aircraft from her squadrons flew in the first US Navy air strikes of the Rolling Thunder Campaign against targets in North Vietnam. The next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first photographic evidence of surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The USS Coral Sea continued to serve in Task Force 77, the carrier strike force of the US Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific, until the fall of Saigon the end of April 1975. After the fall of Saigon, the carrier remained on station in the South China Sea and in May 1975 assisted in the operation to rescue the crew of the Mayaguez, a merchant ship that had been seized by Cambodian forces.
The Phantom, which was used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings throughout Southeast Asia, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber, interceptor, photo reconnaissance and electronic surveillance. The two-man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range - 900 to 2300 miles depending on stores and type of mission. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at both high and low altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
On 17 May 1970, Lt. Norman P. Westwood, Jr., pilot; and Lt. Kane; radar intercept officer; comprised the crew of an F4B assigned to Fighter Squadron 161 onboard the USS Coral Sea. Lt. Westwood and Lt. Kane had been briefed for a night bombing mission over North Vietnam. At the time the strike aircraft prepared to launch, the ship was located approximately 79 miles east-northeast of Mui Ron Ma, which was also the closest point on the coastline; 95 miles northeast of Dong Hoi and 128 miles east-southeast of Vinh, North Vietnam.
At 1837 hours, the Phantom had been cleared for takeoff from the carrier's deck. During the catapult launch sequence, their aircraft developed a fire on its right side. Norman Westwood ordered his RIO to eject as he triggered the master ejection system. The aircraft remained airborne for only 4-6 seconds before impacting the water and sank immediately. Only one ejection seat was seen leaving the crippled Phantom before it disappeared beneath the waves.
Lt. Kane was rescued shortly thereafter by one of the search and rescue (SAR) helicopters assigned to standby in case of an emergency while aircraft were being launched. After recovering Lt. Kane, an extensive search by helicopters from the USS Coral Sea and the destroyer USS George K. Mackenzie failed to locate Lt. Westwood. When no trace of him could be found, the formal search operation was terminated and Norman Westwood was reported as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
There is no doubt Norman Westwood died in the loss of his aircraft. He has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all possible. Above all else, he has the 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 well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
American military men were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they 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.