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[Spacer] [Navy Seal - 4.4K] Leonard Corbett Eastman
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  • Name: Leonard Corbett Eastman
  • Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
  • Unit: VFP 63
  • Date of Birth: 25 June 1933
  • Home City of Record: Bernardston MA
  • Date of Loss: 21 June 1966
  • Country of Loss: North Vietnam
  • Loss Coordinates: 213600N 1063500E (XJ638891)
  • Status (in 1973): Returnee
  • Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF8A
  • Missions: 45+
  • Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
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    SYNOPSIS: The Vought F8 "Crusader" saw action early in U.S. involvement in South- east Asia.  Its fighter models participated both in the first Gulf of Tonkin reprisal in August 1964 and in the myriad attacks against North Vietnam during Operation Rolling Thunder.  The Crusader was used exclusively by the Navy and Marine air wings (although there is one U.S.  Air Force pilot reported shot down on an F8) and represented half or more of the carrier fighters in the Gulf of Tonkin during the first four years of the war.  The aircraft was credited with nearly 53% of MiG kills in Vietnam.

    The most frequently used fighter versions of the Crusader in Vietnam were the C, D, and E models although the H and J were also used.  The Charlie carried only Sidewinders on fuselage racks, and were assigned such missions as CAP (Combat Air Patrol), flying at higher altitudes.  The Echo model had a heavier reinforced wing able to carry extra Sidewinders or bombs, and were used to attack ground targets, giving it increased vulnerability.  The Echo version launched with less fuel, to accommodate the larger bomb store, and frequently arrived back at ship low on fuel.  The RF-A models were equipped for photo reconnaissance.  The RF-G were also photographic versions, but with additional cameras and navigational equipment.

    The combat attrition rate of the Crusader was comparable to similar fighters.  Between 1964 to 1972, eighty-three Crusaders were either lost or destroyed by enemy fire. Another 109 required major rebuilding.  145 Crusader pilots were recovered; 57 were not. Twenty of these pilots were captured and released.  The other 43 remained missing at the end of the war.  In addition, there were 16 pilots who went down on photographic versions of the aircraft. Of these 16, seven were captured (six were released, one died in captivity).

    Lt. Leonard Eastman was the pilot of an RF8A on a combat mission in Lang Son Province, North Vietnam on June 21, 1966.  As he was about 15 miles southwest of the city of Lang Son of his aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed.   Eastman was captured by the Vietnamese, and held prisoner until his return in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973.

    Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government.  Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today.  These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners.  They had a code that no one
    could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned.  Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held.
    It's time we brought our men home.

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    SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
    Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
    P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
    Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).

    UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

    Commander- United States Navy
    Shot Down: June 21, 1966
    Released: February 12, 1973

    I grew up in a small country town of 1500 people, in Massachusetts.  I studied mechanical engineering at Northeastern University in Boston and graduated in 1957.  I joined the Navy that same year.

    My Navy service has been primarily with photographic reconnaissance squadrons.  I
    have attended the Navy's photographic school, the postgraduate school at Monterey, California.  I have also served as a flight instructor in the Naval Air Training Command.

    My future is with the Navy.  My expressed desires are to continue flying and I expect to be able to do so.  As a POW, the greatest sustaining factor for me was faith in a great and powerful country.  My Country.

    November 1996:
    Leonard Eastman retired from the United States Navy as a Commander.
    He and his wife Jackie reside in Maryland.

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