30 May 2007

Naval Aviator Missing In Action From the Vietnam War Identified

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense No. 672-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 30, 2007

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Lt. Michael T. Newell, U.S. Navy, of Ellenville, N.Y.He will be buried today in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

On Dec. 14, 1966, Newell was flying an F-8E Crusader aircraft as wingman in a flight of two on a combat air patrol over North Vietnam.During the mission, the flight leader saw a surface-to-air missile explode between the two aircraft.Although Newell initially reported that he had survived the blast, his aircraft gradually lost power and crashed near the border between Nghe An and Thanh Hoa provinces in south central North Vietnam.The flight leader did not see a parachute nor did he hear an emergency beacon signal.He stayed in the area and determined that Newell did not escape from the aircraft prior to the crash.

Between 1993 and 2002, joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), visited the area of the incident five times to conduct investigations and survey the crash site.They found pilot-related artifacts and aircraft wreckage consistent to an F-8 Crusader.

In 2004, a joint U.S./S.R.V. team began excavating the crash site.The team was unable to complete the recovery and subsequent teams re-visited the site two more times before the recovery was completed in 2006.As a result, the teams found human remains and additional pilot-related items.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC also used dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

The Rest of the Story...

(From the entry for LT Newell at The Virtual Wall)

On 14 Dec 1966 a Navy ALPHA strike from the USS TICONDEROGA was targeted against a vehicle depot at Van Dien, about 5 miles west of Hanoi. As usual, fighters were tasked with providing combat air patrol over the target area while the bombers worked the target.

While over the target LT Michael Newell, flying F-8E BuNo 149148, was hit by fragments from an SA-2 surface to air missile. LT Newell advised his flight lead that his aircraft was handling well, turned south to egress the target area, and began a climb from the 6,000 foot CAP orbit to a higher altitude. A few minutes later he advised that he had lost hydraulic pressure, and comrades watched helplessly as his Crusader entered into uncontrolled flight and dove into the ground from an altitude of about 17,000 feet. Newell did not eject before ground impact; since he was not injured by the SA-2 impact it may be that G-forces due to uncontrolled flight prevented him from ejecting. His remains have not been repatriated.

TICONDEROGA lost a second aircraft during the strike; LT Claude D. Wilson of Attack Squadron 72 (A-4E BuNo 151068) was hit by an SA-2 after departing the target area but stayed in the air. As he neared Thanh Hoa, he was hit a second time and his A-4E exploded in flight. LT Wilson's remains were repatriated in 1989.

LT Newell's flight on 14 December was part of Operation ROLLING THUNDER. Operation ROLLING THUNDER was a gradual and sustained U.S. 2nd Air Division (later Seventh Air Force), U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) aerial bombardment campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) from 2 March 1965 until 1 November 1968, during the Vietnam War.

The target CVW 19 was engaged on that day was the Van Dien supply depot/barracks, target number 62 on the JCS-94 target list. Since it was in the vicinity of Hanoi, it resided under one of the most lethal anti-aircraft zones seen since the notorious flak/fighter corridors over Germany in WW2. The layered defense ranged from widely emplaced ZSU-23/4 cannon to anti-aircraft artillery for medium altitude up to SA-2 GUIDELINE missiles to cover the ingressing/high-altitude threat. All told, CVW-19/TICO would lose 14 aircraft to combat related action during the Oct.19, 1966 - May 29, 1967 deployment, with an additional three operational losses.

LT Newell Remembered

(from a 30 May 2007 article in the Times Herald-Record, serving New York"s Hudson Valley and the Catskills. This is an excellent article and it is recommended in entirety - the portion quoted below was particularly compelling - it serves as a reminder of what small town newspapers are really all about, people and those they have touched or affected over the years, something missing in the bigger national papers - SJS)

Mike Newell: A Reminiscence by His Friend Bob Kelb

Mike and I became good friends in grade school. We were both stubborn and had tempers. This would occasionally get the best of us, and we would have a fight. But I don't think we ever went more than a half hour before one or the other of us would call, apologize, and we would be back on the best of terms. Our friendship grew thru junior high, high school and in later years. When Mike first started to think about entering a service academy, I wasn't sure how he would manage in that environment. I was concerned about his temper (I never told him this). He worked hard to get his appointment to Annapolis. As a midshipman, he thrived in that difficult environment.

Mrs. Newell's brother was an Air Force B-52 bomber pilot and Mike was always interested in planes and flying. When we were growing up, we went to as many air shows as we could at Stewart Field.

One of his summer midshipman cruises was to the Mediterranean, during a NATO exercise. On returning, he mentioned how many pilots were lost during this exercise. As he approached graduation, he was considering both submarines and flying. I remembered the statistics from his Med. cruise, and suggested subs would be a good choice.

But flying was Mike's dream, and he went on to become a carrier pilot. His dream became his passion. (I just recently had a tour of a nuclear attack sub, the USS Albany. I think he made the right choice.) The only time I have been somewhat afraid in an airplane, Mike was at the controls. He had graduated from flight school and was flying an F8-U Crusader. Home on leave, he decided we should go to Wurtsboro Airport, rent a plane and fly over (aka buzz) his girl's (soon to be his wife Mimi's) house in Kerhonkson. Mr. Barone, the owner of the airport, went up with Mike to check him out in the Aeronca. On Mike's first pass at landing, he must have thought he was landing an F-8 on a carrier. He came in with power on. Mr. Barone did a lot of arm waving and Mike went around again and made a fine landing. Mr. Barone got out, Mike motioned to me to get in, and off we went. Well, the Aeronca looked much like a Piper Cub and was about as fast. It was much too slow for someone who had broken the sound barrier. He knew what the redline on the tachometer was for, but several times I had to remind him. I must say that his third landing in the Aeronca was at least as good as his second.

In the fall of 1964, I was in Army basic training at Fort Dix, N.J. I was summoned to report to the company commander in the orderly room. The CO told me that Lt. Michael Newell had called and requested that I be given a weekend pass so I could be an usher in his wedding. I had a good time at Mike and Mimi's wedding, dressed in my buck private's uniform, white gloves and shirt, and a black bow tie.
The last time I saw Mike, was at Mimi's parent's home in Kerhonkson. He was home on leave between tours in Viet Nam. He talked about some of his missions and how he wanted to get a MIG when he returned.

I was once again in uniform for the memorial service that was held for Mike at St. Mary's and St. Andrew's church in Ellenville. It seemed so necessary and so incomplete.

Mike, I still think of you and remember our good friendship. Welcome Home! Rest in Peace!

Indeed LT Newell, welcome home now and rest in peace - your journey is complete...