Last Known Activity|
Lost At Sea
Ray Schimmels, Stanley M. Jerome, Rodney M. Chapman - 2/18/69 LTCDR Rodney M. Chapman was a pilot assigned to VAQ-130 flying the EKA-3B onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On February 18, 1969, Chapman's aircraft was acting as the recovery tanker aircraft, prepared to render valuable assistance to other aircraft returning to the ship with very little fuel. This was an extremely important job, as some types of fighter aircraft launched with a minimum amount of fuel in order to accomodate a heavier bomb load, and sometimes arrived back at ship low on fuel. This was Chapman's 90th flight mission in Vietnam. Chapman's crew included Petty Officers Stanley M. Jerome and Eddie R. Schimmels.
As the aircraft immediately ahead of Chapman's was landing, he advised that his approach would be from overhead the ship, proceeding away from the ship a short distance while descending, then turning toward the ship for a precision radar control landing. Chapman's approach was being monitored on radar. There was a two-way conversation between Chapman and the radar operator. Chapman descended from overhead the ship and flew outbound as instructed. He was then told to turn toward the ship. He failed to acknowledge this radio transmission. A second attempt was made to contact him which failed. About this time, Chapman's aircraft disappeared from the radar and further attempts to regain contact were of no avail.
Within minutes of his disappearance the CORAL SEA airborne helicopter was sent to the area approximately ten miles behind the ship and ordered to commence a search. Shortly thereafter, one of the CORAL SEA's escorting destroyers was also dispatched to assist in the search. The destroyer and the helicopter were unable to locate either the aircraft or its crewmen. An organized search continued throughout the night by three more ships and additional aircraft, both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
The following day at first light, an even more intensive search by ships and aircraft was conducted. These combined units searched extensively over an area of over 1,000 miles with no results. It was concluded that the airplane crashed and the crew of the KA3 were lost at sea.