U.S. Navy – Vietnam
On May 12, 1966, the aircraft carrier USS Constitution was deployed to the South China Sea carrying Fighter Squadron VF-161 , “The Chargers,” with their McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighters. Lieutenant Commander Earl Paul McBride of Volant was an 18-year veteran assigned to Fighter The Chargers.
During their 111 days in support of combat operations in Vietnam, they flew 1368 combat sorties against roads, bridges, and other targets to slow down the movement of North Vietnamese soldiers and materials to the south. For this action the squadron was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation medal.
Before returning to San Diego in December, 1966, the Chargers had lost 15 aircraft and 16 aircrewmen. One of those was Lt. Commander McBride.
On his last mission on October 22, 1966, his plane went missing over the South China Sea. His body was never recovered. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement for that last flight.
His daughter Roseanne posted this on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site: “I was only 12 when my father left my life. We tried for years to find him and after 34 years we finally found his co-pilot who was also searching for us. After all these years, this kind man put to rest our fears that our father was captured or died in pain. Bless him, for he has now put peace in our hearts and we can put our father to rest (even tho the Navy says he is missing in action). Bless all those who served our country and gave up the ultimate, their lives. They are not gone as long as we remember them.”
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Panel 11E Line 98