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4 will finally get their due on Vietnam veterans wall
By HARVEY RICE, HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Updated 09:15 p.m., Sunday, September 25, 2011
GALVESTON — Jay Aubin of Jamaica Beach was 13 when his father and three other crewmen aboard a U.S. Navy EA-3B Skywarrior bailed out over the China Sea and into a typhoon. The body of Chief Warrant Officer Joseph William Aubin was never found.
Jay Aubin, now 59, learned last week that his father and his crew mates will finally get their names carved into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. The honor will come 30 years after the memorial was dedicated and 45 years after his father died on a combat mission.
Aubin received an email Sept. 8 announcing the Department of Defense decision to add the names.
"I said, 'Wow, this puts this to rest,' " Aubin recalled. "He is finally going to be recognized as a Vietnam War hero as he should have been."
The news also was welcomed by Kathy McGee, 57, of Hot Springs, Ark., the sister of one of Aubin's crew mates, Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Dewaine Stocker. McGee was 12 when she learned Stocker was missing.
"I feel like these four guys were forgotten," McGee said. "I have a real hard time with that."
The Navy had rejected previous attempts to have the names added, saying the flight was not a combat mission. The names likely never would have been added without the efforts of Stephanie Loper, 40, an office manager from Cochranton, Pa., and retired Navy Capt. Henry Schultz, 70, of Easly, S.C.
They found the flight navigator, who provided documents proving that the four men were on a combat flight. Loper was born five years after her uncle, Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Hunt, bailed out of the Skywarrior with Aubin.
She obtained detailed accounts of the flight through a Freedom of Information Act request and tracked down relatives of the missing crew members, including W.A. "Al" Linzy, son of Lt. Walter Allan Linzy.
Al Linzy, now 61, pilots a helicopter on Galveston Island and lives in Hamshire in Chambers County. "It literally sent a shudder up and down my spine," Linzy said about the phone call from Loper.
Aubin, 33, Linzy, 39, Hunt, 24, and Stocker, 21, were part of a seven-man crew that flew out of the Philippines on May 26, 1966, toward a combat mission over Vietnam.
Fighters and attack aircraft at the time lacked radar and relied on the EA-3Bs to warn them of enemy fighters and missiles, said Schultz, 70.
The pilot, the crew captain and navigator Collin Pemberton sat in the cockpit and the four electronics officers sat in the converted bomb bay. About 40 to 50 minutes into the flight both engines quit and the Skywarrior began to fall, a Navy report said.
Four men bailed out
The pilot ordered the crew to bail out. The crew members in the bomb bay were out in less than a minute, the report said. Pemberton declined to be interviewed for this story, but he has spoken with Schultz.
The crew captain rose to jump, but his oxygen bottle unhooked and he waited until he could jump at a lower altitude, the report said. The pilot rose from his seat to jump, but sat back down when he realized that the crew captain blocked the aisle.
In a few moments he regained control of the aircraft, then grabbed Pemberton's harness to keep him from jumping. Pemberton in turn grabbed the crew captain.
"He says he was incredibly lucky to have survived," Schultz recalled Pemberton saying. The aircraft landed safely.
A destroyer found Stocker's body three days later. An autopsy determined Stocker had survived for two days. Linzy's life jacket was found, but no other bodies were located.
The families will be invited to watch the names being carved next May, said Sarah Stewart, spokeswoman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.