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Date: 24 March 1967
Aircraft type: A-6A Intruder
Serial Number: 151587
Military Unit: VA-85
Service: USN
Home Base: USS Kitty Hawk
Lt Cdr John Cooley Ellison (KIA)
Lt(jg) James Edwin Plowman (KIA)

An A-6 disappeared during a four-aircraft night strike on a thermal power plant at Bac Giang near Kep. After the crew radioed that they had released their bombs the Intruder (call sign Buckeye 511) was tracked by radar (probably by an E-2 Hawkeye) to be about 10 miles north of their planned course. The radar plot disappeared in Ha Bac Province when the aircraft probably fell victim to AAA or a SAM; two missile warnings were reported by the pilot of another aircraft just before the Intruder plot was lost. One source claims that Lt Cdr Ellison made voice contact with a SAR force but neither crewman was rescued or ever heard from again although rumours persist that at least one of the men was held captive in China. However, after the end of the war when China released the US airmen who had been shot down over Chinese territory, neither Ellison nor Plowman was amongst them. Photographs of POWs taken by the North Vietnamese together with first hand information from a released POW indicate that one or both men may have been captured. In 1980 Ellison and Plowman were declared dead for administrative purposes but the mystery surrounding their disappearance persisted. John Ellison had been forced to abandon an A-6A on 15 May 1966 when the aircraft was unable to take on fuel as it was returning from a mission. The fate of Lt Plowman was finally settled in 2006 when his remains, which had been found in the excavation of a crash site in 1996, were finally identified using mitochondrial DNA testing. The remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in September 2006. The fate of Lt Cdr Ellison remains unknown.

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