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First Name: John

Last Name: Worcester

Birthplace: Big Rapids, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Bowers

Date of Birth: 23 April 1941

Date of Death: 08 December 1975 (Presumed)

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant (junior grade)

Years Served: 1963-1965
John Bowers Worcester

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


John Bowers "Smiley" Worcester
Lieutenant (Junior Grade), U.S. Navy

John Bowers Worcester, son of Donald Hopkins and Dorothy Lucile Bowers Worcester, was born on 23 April 1941 in Big Rapids, MI. John Worchester graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with the class of 1963.

After being designated a Naval Aviator, John Worchester arrived in Southeast Asia in early August 1965, where he was assigned to VA-195, CVW-19, aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard.

On the afternoon of 19 October 1965, LTJG John B. Worcester was the pilot of an A-4C Skyhawk that launched from the deck of the Bon Homme Richard as the number two aircraft in a section of two. The flight was conducting a late-afternoon armed reconnaissance mission over central North Vietnam between the major cities of Thanh Hoa and Vinh, Nghe An Province, North Vietnam. Visibility along the entire route of flight was excellent.

At approximately 1700 hours, the Skyhawks were directed to attack the bridge over the Song Hieu river that flowed through the town of Nghia Hung in an attempt to cut the communist supply line in that region. Both aircraft made a run on the bridge with LTJG Worchester right behind the lead aircraft. Smiley Worchester expended part of his ordnance on the bridge, and as he pulled off target, he reported he was turning over checkpoint 1.

At approximately 1715 hours, his flight leader reported reaching checkpoint 2 and requested a radio check from LTJG Worchester. When no contact could be established, the flight leader radioed the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control (ABCCC) aircraft to request a search and rescue (SAR) mission be immediately initiated. He then began a visual search through the rolling hills along their flight path, but found no evidence of LTJG Worchester or his aircraft.

A nearby fighter aircraft reported an explosion in the area about 1715 hours, but was too far away to determine if it was the Skyhawk. The location of the explosion was in a small rice field on the western edge of Nghia Hung and approximately one-half mile west of the Song Hieu River. Highway 116 was located one-fourth of a mile north of the possible crash site and Highway 15, the primary north/south highway, was located between the river and the explosion. Large plantations surround the town including one situated just yards to the south of the site.

Aerial search operations proved negative. Because the location of loss was deep in enemy-held territory, no ground search was possible. LTJG Worchester's last known location was approximately 26 miles due west of the coastline, 41 miles south-southwest of Thanh Hoa and 47 miles north-northwest of Vinh, North Vietnam. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, John Worchester was listed Missing in Action.

He was twice promoted while in MIA status, until the Secretary of the Navy approved a Presumptive Finding of Death on 8 December 1975.

As of May 2013 his remains have not been repatriated.

Badge, Medals and Awards

Naval Aviator Badge
Purple Heart
Air Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal


The name John B Worcester is located on Panel 02E Line 126 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Honoree ID: 3381   Created by: MHOH




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