Today is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on this, the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan in the Philippines, 1942. President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation for this day, which is viewable at:
Although the 14th TFS did not have any assigned members captured during the Cold War years in Japan, the squadron throughout its long history has three pilots who became POWs in World War II (as 14th PRS) and three RF-4C aircrew who became POW’s in the Vietnam War (14th TRS) who warrant remembrance:
Acosta, Hector M. On 9 December 1972, First Lieutenant Hector M. Acosta, 14TRS, was a Photo Systems Operator in the back seat of RF-4C 68-0597 was shot down on his 90th mission by a surface-to-air missile just north of Vinh, North Vietnam was captured and spent some months in the Hanoi Hilton before being repatriated on 29 March 1973.
Dixon, Robert J. Circa 15 February 1945, Capt. Robert J. Dixon, 14PRS Commander, shot down by flak on a recon mission in Spitfire PR Mk XI, serial number PL866 (MACR 12324) to Merseburg, Germany. He stayed in the Air Force after the war and eventually rose to four-star rank, and saw combat again in Korea and Vietnam.
Gauntt, William A. On 13 August 1972, RF-4C pilot Captain William A. Gauntt, 14TRS, was nearly done with his combat tour and on a recon mission in RF-4C 68-0604 over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) when he was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery. He was repatriated on 27 March 1973.
Hillborn, Robert B. On 5 September 1944, Lt. Robert B. Hillborn, 14PRS, was shot down by a Luftwaffe Me-262 jet fighter while flying Spitfire PR Mk XI PL782 (MACR 6687) on a mission to obtain bomb damage assessment pictures of Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Karlsruhe. He was attacked by two Me-262’s near Stuttgart, hit, and bailed out of his stricken aircraft near Feurbach. He was a POW at Luft Stalag I, Barth, Germany.
Ruhling, Mark J. On 3 November 1968, RF-4C recon systems operator Captain Mark J. Ruhling, 14TRS, was shot down in RF-4C 66-0445 near Dong Hoi while on a recon mission against a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) site in North Vietnam.
Van Wart, Franklin I. On 1 March 1944, Lt. Franklin I. Van Wart (or Franklyn K. Van Wart), 14PRS, was shot down in Spitfire PR Mk XI MB945, named “Lu Mar II.” (MACR 2744)
So on this National Former POW Recognition Day, 2017, let us render a hand salute to these men and all those men and women who served and sacrificed as a POW for our country. These former captives deserve our recognition and appreciation.
P.S. Regrets to all readers for the absence of new material in recent months. A sudden family health crisis required priority attention and still does, so updates will likely be slow for the foreseeable future. But if you have found this web log, please do look through all the material posted already and you will surely find something else that is interesting.