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TO HONOR A FALLEN CHIEF

BENNIE RICHARD LAMBTON
Chief Petty Officer - Photographic Intelligenceman
United States Navy

Chief Lambton was born August 7, 1930 in Harrisburg, Illinois. His home of record is Indianapolis, Indiana. The Chief was attached to Heavy Photo Squadron 61 onboard USS HANCOCK (CVA-19). On June 13, 1966 LCDR John Glanville, pilot; LTJG George Gierak, co-pilot and Chief Lambton launched from Hancock in their RA3B Skywarrior aircraft on a night low-level photo reconnaissance mission in the Ha Tinh province of North Vietnam.

The flight was directed by Heavy Photo Squadron 61. During their mission the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and it was assumed they went down under heavy fire. No communication or distress signals were received. The escort aircraft observed a bright orange flash near the mouth of the Gia Hoi River and thereafter radio contact with the aircraft had been lost.

An extensive search was conducted in the immediate area, as well as over the adjacent waters by various aircraft, but results were negative. On June 15, 1966, Radio Peking stated that a photo reconnaissance jet was shot down and the crew killed in the crash.

The crew escape system of this type aircraft does not provide ejection seats and makes high speed bailout extremely difficult. Low altitutde bailout is virtually impossible. All information taken into consideration, the Commanding Officer of the squadron changed the crew's initial classification from "Missing in Action" to "Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered" on June 17, 1966.

The crew of the RA3B shot down on June 13, 1966 is listed with honor among the missing because no remains were found.

On January 30, 2002 I received an e-mail from Chief Lambton's daughter. With her permission it is posted here:

Dear Chief Burke,
I am the daughter of Bennie R. Lambton, CPO, USN, MIA. I happened upon your site this morning while I was surfing around.
I recently attended the "Family Update" for families of MIA from all recent conflicts. It was the first time I had attended this type of update. In the past I regularly attended the MIA/POW League of Families Conference in D.C. Both my mother and I have been actively pursuing a full accounting of my father's loss.
I am trying to carry on with the task of finding out what happened to him. Over the course of many years we were told many different scenarios. At this particular time, I believe the JTFFA will go back to the crash site. It has been ten years since they initially investigated the site. Hopefully, they will be compelled to excavate for remains or other artifacts that could bring us new leads and information. I will be happy to let you know if that comes to pass.
It has been a difficult 38 years waiting for the truth. As I am an only child, and I have an only child, we seem to be losing connnection to his life as time marches on. Your site provides so much to me in that it keeps alive his memory and lets the world know of his contribution. That you so very much.

Signed: Mary Lambton Lattig
Ridgecreast, CA

Mary's mother passed away suddenly in August 2000, never knowing the fate of her husband. In a follow-up e-mail Mary wrote:

Also, I forgot to tell you that my father was inducted into the "Hall of Valor" at Dam Neck, VA. It was a very moving ceremony for my mother and I to attend. He was among the first three inducted. If ever you are there, you would be moved to see the tribute. He is also memorialized at Arlington National Cemetary. His marker lists him as KIA/BNR. This is the official listing of the DPMO but, they continue to seek leads in his loss incident for possible repatriation. I will let you know if we ever receive information regarding his repatriation.

Signed: Mary

CHIEF LAMBTON AND HIS CREW PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE