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You Are Not Forgotten
By AlphaNews
9/18/2015 8:11:00 AM
Alpha Industries POW/MIA MA-1 Flight Jacket

Today members of the Alpha team are headed to Virginia Beach, VA, for the first day of the NAS Oceana Air Show. The theme of this year’s show is honoring our Vietnam Veterans with several elements devoted to recognizing their Service, Valor and Sacrifice. Today is also National POW MIA Recognition Day, which always falls on the 3rd Friday of September. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1998, the day honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action. The Vietnam War had its share of POW/MIA service members so bringing the two events together was a natural fit.

The air show will showcase Vietnam-era aircraft along with vintage displays of vehicles, boats, equipment and uniforms to show younger visitors some of the tangible elements from those days. There will also be POW/MIA flag jump to recognize those that were imprisoned and those that never returned.

To support both the air show and the POW/MIA Recognition Day the Alpha team developed a one-of-a-kind flight jacket that pays tribute to these warriors and their families. It is inclusive of all services and conflicts, and provides a feel for an actual service member lost in Vietnam and puts a face to a name, to help us all feel and understand that loss in some small way. Let’s take a closer look.

The Back

The back of the jacket has at its center the iconic POW/MIA flag designed as a symbol of citizen concern about United States military personnel taken as prisoners of war (POWs) or listed as missing in action (MIA). The POW/MIA symbol is surrounded by patches honoring the soldiers that served in a variety of conflicts from WWII to Korea to Vietnam and culminating in Desert Shield / Desert Storm, the Iraq Campaign and the Afghanistan Campaign. These patches are arranged in order of “seniority” across four rows, with WWII at the topmost position.

The Right Sleeve
The right sleeve features patches from all five services, emphasizing the joint nature of the U.S. military and bringing home the point that all of our service branches operate together. These patches have also been arranged by seniority, from top to bottom, with the most senior service (oldest), the U.S. Army, at the top of the right shoulder.

The Front
The front of the jacket again features a large iconic POW/MIA flag. The zipper pull is a dog tag with the POW/MIA symbol on one side and key holidays engraved on the other including: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day.

The Left Sleeve
The top of the left sleeve features the U.S. flag, a position it occupies in a variety of military working uniforms. Further down are patches for the U.S.S. America (CVA-60) and VA-85 (ATKRON 85, Attack Squadron 85). It is at this point that the theme evolves from a broad look at POW/MIA to a more focused attention on an aviator lost in 1968 over North Vietnam. Below the VA-85 patch is an actual vintage POW/MIA Bracelet. The bracelets were created in 1970 as a way to honor POW/MIA from the Vietnam war. Those who wore the bracelets vowed to leave them on until the soldier named on the bracelet, or their remains, were returned to America. When we found the bracelet on the jacket, it was still in its unopened packaging after almost 50 years. We took this as an indication that we should feature this particular service member as the “face” for our jacket.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Duncan’s Story
Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Duncan was an A-6B Intruder pilot attached to U.S. Navy Attack Squadron 85 (VA-85) onboard the U.S.S. America. Duncan and his BN (Bombardier Navigator), Lieutenant Junior Grade Alan Ashall, were lost on 29 August 1968, over the Vinh Son area, North Vietnam, during Operation Rolling Thunder on a night Iron Hand mission in A-6B #151561.

Duncan and Ashall launched at 1:00 a.m. and proceeded to their assigned station. Three surface-to-air missiles (SAM) were observed in the area. A transmission was received from the aircraft reporting that they were experiencing radio trouble, and then a transmission that sounded like, "SAMs in the air" followed by "We shot a missile" or "I got a missile". No distress signals were received and efforts to contact them were unsuccessful.

Search and rescue efforts were initiated immediately, but the results were negative. There was a large fireball observed on the ground in the vicinity where the aircraft disappeared. It was suspected that the aircraft took a direct or disabling hit by one of the three SAMs or collided with the terrain while attempting to avoid the enemy fire. Duncan and Ashall were classified Missing in Action (MIA).

The Commander of the Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral William F. Bringle, acknowledged that the missions required of the A-6 pilots over North Vietnam were among "the most demanding missions we have ever asked our aircrews to fly." However, he added, "there is an abundance of talent, courage and aggressive leadership" in the A-6 squadrons.

From our team at Alpha, Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Duncan and Lieutenant Junior Grade Alan Ashall , “You are not forgotten.”

Alpha Industries POW/MIA MA-1 Jacket

Tags: POW/MIA Recognition Day, Vietnam War, NAS Oceana Air Show, Lieutenant Junior Grade Robert Duncan
Categories: Events, Military History, Holidays
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