Veterans Roll of Honor: DONALD EDWIN SIEGWARTH
Branch of Service: United States Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Service history: Donald Edwin Siegwarth was born on June 28, 1941, in Orange, NJ, and later moved to Toms River, NJ. He attended Alexander Street School and West Side High School in Newark, NJ, graduating in January 1959. Don attended Sunday School and youth fellowship activities at Kilburn Memorial Presbyterian Church, also in Newark, NJ. Being an accomplished singer, he sang the National Anthem at his high school graduation ceremony on January 27, 1955.
Donald entered the US Navy and was assigned to the Air Transport Squadron SEVEN. He became a pilot and attained the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG).
On 17 June 1966, Lt. Cmdr. Ralph B. Cobbs, pilot; Lt. JG Donald E. Siegwarth, co-pilot; Lt. JG Edward L. Romig, navigator; ADJ2 Curtis D. Collette, flight mechanic/jet engines; YN2 Jack I. Dempsey, radio operator; ADR2 Stanley J. Freng, flight mechanic/reciprocating engines; Lt. JG Clement O. Stevenson, Jr., crewman; and AN M. J. Savoy, crewman; comprised the crew of a C130E aircraft conducting an operational airlift mission. The mission originated at Moffett Naval Air Station, California; proceeded to Kadena Airbase, Okinawa, Japan; then to Cam Ranh Bay Airbase, South Vietnam. On the return flight, they departed Cam Ranh Bay Airbase at 0215 hours with its crew of eight and 6 passengers all members of the US Air Force. They were: 1st Lt. Claiborne P. McCall, Capt. Connie M. Gravitte, SSgt. Oley N. Adams, SSgt. Robert A. Cairns, SSgt. Gene K. Hess and AFC Larry E. Washburn.
Roughly 20 minutes after takeoff, the USS Fortify, a US Navy gunboat, witnessed an explosion at approximately 1000 feet above the water with a subsequent explosion upon impacting the water. Debris and fuel remaining on the surface of the water after the crash burned for approximately 30 minutes. The location of the crash was 43 miles northeast of Nha Trang, 16 miles south-southeast of Tuy Hoa, and 3 miles east of Lang Thuong, Phu Yen Province, South Vietnam.
The USS Fortify was on the scene within minutes and immediately initiated rescue efforts, to include coordinating both surface and air search activities. The search operation was successful in recovering the remains of Claiborne P. McCall and Clement O. Stevenson, Jr.; however, they were unable to locate any trace of the rest of the crew and passengers. At the time the extensive search effort was terminated on 21 June 1966, the remaining twelve men were listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
Awards and Decorations:
Purple Heart Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Naval Aviator's Wings
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