Richard Allen Stratton
|SYNOPSIS: LCDR Richard A. Stratton was an A4E pilot and the maintenance officer
of Attack Squadron 192 onboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA14). On January 4, 1967, he launched in his A4E "Skyhawk" attack aircraft at 0703 hours for
his 27th mission on an armed reconnaissance mission over Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam to destroy the My Trach ferry. The ferry was not found; however, four large barges were located one mile up the river. LtCdr. Stratton rolled in on the barges and launched his rockets. Almost immediately, he began to experience a rough running engine and fire. It was suspected that foreign objects/debris (FOD) was ingested into
the engine on firing his rockets. He immediately turned his aircraft for departure out
to sea. His wingman did not see an ejection, but did spot a fully deployed parachute landing in a tree near a small village. An emergency beeper was heard for 1-2 minutes, and it was suspected that Stratton was captured immediately.
Radio Hanoi broadcasts of the capture of a pilot confirmed Stratton's Prisoner of War status. He was held in the Hanoi prison system and used in numerous media events in attempts to bolster the propaganda effort. One such event was a heavily commercialized "confession" and bowing to the Vietnamese in a March 4, 1967 photo.
The American POWs agreed that they would not accept early release without all the prisoners being released, but in early August 1969, the POWs decided it was time the story of their torture was known. Allowing someone in their midst to accept an early release would also provide the U.S. with a more complete list of Americans being held captive. A young seaman, Doug Hegdahl, together with Bob Frishman and Wesley Rumble were released from Hanoi as a propaganda move for the Vietnamese, but with the blessings of the POWs. When they were about to be released, Stratton told Hegdahl, "Go ahead, blow the whistle. If it means more torture for me, at least I'll know why, and will feel it's worth the sacrifice." Eventually, after world pressure ensued, torture of American POWs ceased.
On March 4, 1973, Stratton was released in Operation Homecoming with a total of 591 American POWs. He had been held 2, 251 days. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with V, the Bronze Star with V, Air Medal, the Navy Commendation medal with V, the Combat Action Ribbon, and a Purple Heart, as well as the POW medal.
He continued his Naval career and retired with the rank of Captain in 1986 after 31
He and his wife, Alice, reside in Florida. Alice Stratton holds the position of First Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Force Support and Families. Dick Stratton is still concerned about the men who were left behind in Vietnam. He has been active in leadership in the National League of Families of POW/MIAs, and has served on its board of directors.
The Stratton family maintains its military ties -- son Patrick and wife Dawn Stratton served with the USMC in the Gulf War and in Saudi Arabia. Another son, Michael Stratton also served with the Marines in the Gulf War and in Saudi Arabia. Son Charles and wife Joanna reside in Michigan. Grandbaby number 1, Amanda Jean, was born 12/02/96.
Reflecting now on his captivity and Homecoming, Richard Stratton says his time in captivity was "shore duty" and "God Bless Richard M. Nixon and his courage to bomb Hanoi -- God Bless CAG Stockdale and BGEN Risner for their courageous leadership -- God Bless our wives' loyalty and public fight for our release."
|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
RICHARD A. STRATTON
Richard Allen Stratton, Commander, U. S. Navy, enlisted as a Naval Aviation Cadet on June 15, 1955 and was commissioned under the Aviation Officer Candidate Program on November 16, 1955. He was designated Naval Aviator April 1957. The majority of his Naval service was with the Pacific Fleet flying light attack aircraft.
Commander Stratton graduated from Georgetown University with an AB in History
(Government) in June 1955 and from Stanford University in June 1964 with an MA
Far more important than man's inhumanity to man which is as old as Cain - the heart of
the ordeal of the POWs confined in North Vietnam was the saga of faith in their fellows,
The rallying of the country to the defense of the POWs, the courage of a President to
blockade and bomb, the guts of the San Toy raiders to go into the jaws of death, the