Dear Classmates:

I am asking your help to finance a worthy project. As you may know, the USS Midway has been made in to a museum and is moored in downtown San Diego. Much restoration work has been done and more is planned. Of course, this costs money.

I am asking for your help with one small part of the restoration effort. One of the squadron ready rooms is being renovated so as to depict a Vietnam era light attack ready room. The pilots who flew in these squadrons were then the business end of the Navy and bore the brunt of the Navy combat losses during the Vietnam conflict. The restored ready room aboard the Midway will give visitors a good sense of what it was like to serve on the Navy's longest serving carrier (49 years) during the Vietnam conflict. We need $12,000 dollars for this project, of which $2500 has already been committed. That leaves $9500 to be raised. The work is being organized and done by unpaid volunteers, mostly Navy veterans. I think that is a very small cost to recognize those who were a part of the struggle in Vietnam. As you know, that effort had a big impact on our class. It was a long and largely thankless effort in our struggle against communism, but every man did his duty and quite a few lost their lives. I hope you will support this modest effort to recognize these men.

Checks should be made out to: San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum. Write VA/VMA ready room project in the memo section of the check. You may send your check to:

San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum
910 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

or send them to me at:

Capt. Michael Cronin USN-Ret.
13121 Esworthy Road
North Potomac, MD 20878

 Here are a few statistics that may help illustrate what I am saying:

USNA63 classmates lost in Vietnam (total KIA)- 13

USNA63 classmates lost (KIA) in Vietnam flying A4 Skyhawk-6; , A6 Intruder-3, A1 Skyraider-1

USNA63 classmates taken prisoner in Vietnam-2, both while flying A4 Skyhawk.

I don't know the statistics for other classes, but I believe they are similar. Admiral Stockdale (USNA 47) and Senator McCain (USNA 57) were both flying the A4 when they went down.

Statistics for the Navy as a whole are even more dramatic:

Type     Number lost      KIA       POW

 A4           271              98          48

 A7           99                30           7

 A1           65                34           3

 A6           86                92           23

Almost all these losses were to ground fire or SA-2 missiles. Migs got only 3 A1s and one A4. A1s and A4s each got one mig.

The Marines lost an additional 91 A4s with 2 fatalities and one POW. The Marines operated primarily in South Vietnam in direct support of ground forces where rescue efforts were both more feasible and more likely to succeed.

That makes the total A4 combat loss 362 with 100 fatalities and 49 POWs.  Quite a few more were lost in accidents related to combat operations, but not in direct combat. The fires on the Forrestal and Oriskany are examples of this. Ordnance being readied for use in combat started both fires. Many lives and aircraft were lost in both cases.

The Navy lost more A4s than any other aircraft type by a wide margin. The second greatest losses were suffered by the F4 with 128 lost with 65 fatalities and 42 POWs.

Just for comparison, the Air Force lost 397 F-105s with 150 fatalities and 103 POWs.

Combat losses are nothing to boast about. I simply make the point that attack squadrons, especially the A4 squadrons, bore the brunt of the Navy action and suffered the greatest losses within the Navy.

USS Midway made three combat cruises during the Vietnam conflict. Ready 3 aboard the USS Midway will commemorate the efforts and the courage of the men of the attack squadrons who flew these dangerous and thankless missions.  As much as possible, it will be restored to be as it was during the Vietnam War. Those who lost their lives will be listed by name. The details are still being worked out.

As you may have already heard, there will be an A4 placed on board midway and dedicated on September 17th this year. The aircraft was assigned to VA-23 during the war and it has been repainted in squadron colors. VA-23 made one cruise on the Midway during the war. (April-November 1965). Two of our classmates, Dan Moran and Stan Smiley, were KIA while in VA-23. I was captured while serving in VA-23. Our classmate Ron Machens also served in VA-23. I encourage all of you who are able to attend to do so. The Midway is worth a visit even though the ready room and some other restoration projects will not be complete by then. It sure gave me pause to stand on the same flight deck I stood on in May of 1965 when I first reported for duty in VA-23 in the Tonkin Gulf.   

Thanks for your consideration and support

Mike Cronin

Quality 63