6 Nov 1951: A Crew 12 Patrol Squadron SIX Lockheed P2V-3W was shot down with the loss of all hands (10 aircrewmen) by Soviet La-11 fighter aircraft (piloted by I. Ya. Lukashyev and M.K. Shchukin) while on patrol in the Sea of Japan off Vladivostok, Siberia. BuNo 124283 was conducting a weather reconnaissance mission under United Nations command.
The attack occurred over international waters, but the Russians claimed the aircraft had violated Soviet airspace over Cape Ostrovnaya. The Soviet pilots reported that they intercepted the VP-6 aircraft near Cape Ostrovnoy approximately 7-8 miles from the shore. After firing upon the P-2 Neptune, the aircraft burned, fell into the water, and exploded 18 miles from the shore killing the entire crew:
LT Judd C. Hodgson
LT Sam Rosenfeld
ENS A. Smith
AO1 Reuben S. Baggett
AD1 Paul R. Foster
AT1 Erwin D. Raglin
AL2 Paul G. Juric
AT2 William S. Meyer
AL2 Ralph A. Wiger, Jr.
AD3 Jack Lively
Charles Pomeroy of Waikiki brought a picture board and a lei to Punchbowl to help honor the men of Crew 12, Patrol Squadron 6, the first Navy squadron sent into the Korean War. The crew's patrol plane was shot down in 1951.
Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser
Every year on Nov. 6 — the date in 1951 that a Navy P2V Neptune patrol bomber was shot down by Soviet fighters over the Sea of Japan — Charles Pomeroy visits the memorial to recall the men lost with it.
Pomeroy, 72, a member of Patrol Squadron 6 out of Barbers Point like those of "Crew 12," remembers reaching out to trace the names on his first visit to the memorial in 1995.
"I knew some of them so well," Pomeroy said while at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific last week. "I really had a sense of sadness. The emotion sort of wells up inside of you."
As the nation today remembers veterans and the sacrifices they made, the sister of one of the missing Navy men — still searching for answers to what happened to her brother — is thankful that even in a small way, Pomeroy is among those keeping the memory of Crew 12 alive.
"It's heartwarming to know that other people care," said Patricia Lively Dickinson, whose brother, Jack, was an aviation machinist mate on the downed plane.
Patrol Squadron 6 — or VP-6, the Blue Sharks — was the first Navy squadron sent into the Korean War. Its dozen P2V Neptune twin-propeller aircraft based at Barbers Point deployed to Guam near the start of the war on June 25, 1950, and from there moved to bases in Japan.
The heavily armed Neptunes, which carried 20 mm and 50-cal. guns along with rockets, bombs or torpedoes, were used to attack patrol boats, bridges and railways and hunt for submarines.
Charles Pomeroy matches faces on a picture board with the names of 10 fallen comrades inscribed on a monument at Punchbowl.
Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser
Crew 12 was shot down by a pair of Soviet LA-11 fighters near the Vladivostok naval base during combat duty that edged over into the murky side of the Cold War.
"On the East Coast run, we would fly the Sea of Japan up to Vladivostok, and as we approached Vladivostok and the 30-mile mark (from the coast), we would make a port turn and come down the Korean coast," said Pomeroy, who flew 79 missions during the Korean War as a radio, radar and electronic counter-measures operator.
On at least two occasions, they strayed too close to the Soviet or Chinese mainland. Pomeroy remembers once in 1950 reaching the mission turn-around point, breaking through the clouds, and seeing Vladivostok.
"It couldn't have been 10 miles (away), and immediately, the skipper made his turn," Pomeroy said. "I remember somebody up in the cockpit saying, 'Oh, s---!' That was the thought that went through everybody's mind."
From 1950 through the late 1960s, the United States launched tens of thousands of spy missions. Although the Crew 12 flight was billed as a weather reconnaissance flight, "everybody knows that was just cover," Pomeroy said.
The Soviets claimed the P2V fired first, but Pomeroy doesn't buy it. His guess is the U.S. plane flew too close to the mainland, or maybe close enough for the Soviets to have an excuse to fire.
"Everyone sort of knew you were there," he said. "I just suspect for the Soviets, this was an opportunity to make a statement."
Pomeroy and the friends he remembers still, flew aboard Navy P2V Neptune patrol planes during the Korean War.
Photo courtesy of Charles Pomeroy
Dickinson, who lives in West Virginia, said her brother enlisted in the Navy one week before his 19th birthday. She never saw him again. He was expected to be home for Christmas in 1950, but called to say he was being shipped to Hawai'i. He completed 20 missions between Aug. 3 and the day his plane was shot down, she said.
Pomeroy spends a half-hour or so each year locating the names of Crew 12 on the cream-colored walls at Punchbowl, sometimes snapping off a salute to the men he respected, and doesn't want to forget.
He remembers Paul "Gus" Juric, who made aviation electronics man second class the same time he did. Erwin "Rags" Raglin was one of the older guys in the squadron at 32 — or at least he seemed so to Pomeroy, who turned 20 in 1950. "Thirty-two on a flight crew was an old guy," Pomeroy recalled.
Ralph Wigert Jr. had been in World War II and was called up as a reservist in the Korean War. Paul Foster, meanwhile, was "just a great guy," Pomeroy said. "I remember him always going out of his way to look after me."
"They died while they were still so young," he said. "Their lives may have ended, but the kind of people they were should continue as long as people remember them."
Then living in Japan, Pomeroy visited Punchbowl in 1995 while on vacation. He now lives in Japan and Waikiki, and has been paying tribute to Crew 12 each year since. The Blue Sharks remained at Barbers Point until the squadron was decommissioned in 1993. The Nov. 6, 1951 downing is one of 10 from the Cold War that the Defense Department is investigating, Dickinson said.
"They were all dedicated," Pomeroy said. "Not only the guys we have inscribed here (at Punchbowl), but everyone who flew, whether during actual combat in Korea or (intelligence) missions. They all deserve respect for laying it on the line."
Reach William Cole at email@example.com or 525-5459."
Honolulu Advertiser article on VP-6 squadronmate Charles Pomeroy's annual remembrance of Crew 12