Roger Locher Describes Shooting Down a MiG, Getting Shot Down by a MiG-19, Ejecting & Evading Capture on the Ground in North Vietnam for 23 Days

USAF F-4 WSO Captain Roger Locher of the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron describes the mission on May 10, 1972, when he and Maj. Robert A. Lodge in Oyster 1 attacked four MiG-21s, shot down one of them with an AIM-7 using a head on attack and were immediately thereafter shot down by a MiG-19 they never saw until it was too late.  The stricken F-4D immediately went out of control and was on fire.  With the airplane in an inverted descent below 9,000 feet Roger said to Bob that he was going to eject.  Major Lodge said “why don’t you eject then.”  Roger ejected, but he never saw Bob’s chute or what happened to him.  Robert Lodge was later declared Killed in Action.

When I was stationed at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, in 1973 I read the Intel debriefing report Roger gave after he returned to Udorn.  I remember Roger said that before their 10 May 72 mission Bob Lodge told Rodger he would never be a prisoner of war and that Roger speculated that Bob decided to stay with the F-4 rather then eject because of his mindset.

In most of the two part 45 minute audio report Roger Locher describes in detail what happened, his escape and evasion plan and how he successfully evaded the North Vietnam for 23 days.  Before his mission the Intel briefing said that if you got shot down east of  a certain distance from Hanoi you would be a POW because the powers that be decided that search and rescue missions too close to Hanoi were too dangerous for the rescue forces.

When Roger made his first radio contact with US forces 22 days after being shot down the USAF tried to rescue him that day, but the ground fire was too heavy.  The next day USAF General Vogt cancelled the bombing mission scheduled for North Vietnam and sent the entire strike force and supporting aircraft (119 total aircraft) to rescue Roger Locher. It was the deepest rescue made inside North Vietnam during the entire war.

I don’t know when Roger made the tape, but it sounds like it may have been made shortly after his rescue to other aircrews at Udorn Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, with the purpose of helping them in case they were shot down.

The audio is in two parts:

To learn more about Roger Locher and his 10 May 72 mission and rescue 23 days later 60 miles northwest of Hanoi five miles south of Yen Bai Airfield, North Vietnam, read his story on Wikipedia.

Read “Valor: A Good Thought to Sleep On” about Roger Locher.

Watch the two videos Sgt. Joey Hill made about Robert Lodge and Roger Locher at ” Sgt. Joey Hill, the Crew Chief of F-4D 650784 & His 2 Fabulous Videos of Robert Lodge & Roger Locher.”  Joey Hill’s two videos contain his personal photos and the audios of the mission tapes Lodge and Locher made of their missions over North Vietnam during which they shot down their first and second MiGs.  Lodge and Locher gave their crew chief, Sgt. Joey Hill, copies of the audio cassette tapes they made of the two missions.

After you listen to Roger describing his 23 day ordeal, you must watch and listen to the video of Brigadier General Steve Ritchie describing hearing Roger’s first radio call for help on day 22 and the incredible rescue mission that successfully returned Roger to his comrades and freedom.  Steve Richie is the only USAF pilot ace of the Vietnam War.  He was in the same squadron and four ship flight of F-4s as Roger Locher and Robert Lodge on May 10, 1972, the day the two o them were shot down too far inside North Vietnam to be rescued.  Over 150 airplanes were dedicated to rescuing Rocher Locher on day 23.

Listen carefully to the end of Ritchie’s speech when he talks about Americans who risk it all to save one man’s life and freedom and compare that to Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s abandonment of the four patriots who died in Benghazi because the U.S. did nothing to save them.  General Ritchie concludes by saying:

We come to fully understand the effort to which we will go, the resources we will commit, the risks that we will take to rescue one crew member, one American, one ally.  Isn’t it a very powerful statement about what kind of people we are?  About the value that we place on life, on freedom and on the individual? . . . The real mission, yours and mine, business, government, civilian, military, is to protect and preserve an environment, a climate, a system, a way of life where people can be free.

This nine minute video by General  Ritchie describes in detail his memories of the day Roger Locher and Bob Lodge were shot down and Roger’s rescue 23 days later.  It is a great speech.  I recommend you watch the entire video.

I also recommend Steve Ritchie’s paper entitled “Leadership that Inspires Excellence,” about Roger Locher, his rescue and leadership.  He wrote the paper when he attended the Air War College.

2017-01-20T19:03:13+00:00By |11 Comments

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  1. Sgt. Joey Hill October 4, 2012 at 4:08 am - Reply

    I was the Crew Chief of the F-4 65-0784 that Roger Locher and Bob Lodge got all 3 MIG Kills in. I recently put pictures of that aircraft and recordings of the first 2 MIG kills on the You Tube. Sgt. Joey Hill.

    • Richard November 12, 2012 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Just checked out the youtube vids 0 great stuff – any chance of sharing the photos oi the f-4

      • Sgt. JOEY HILL November 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm - Reply

        Go to google and select “images”at the top. Then type in F4D 650784. That should bring them up for you.

        • On the Net November 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm - Reply

          Awesome. I made a new post just for you and your two great videos. Thanks so much Joey. My best to you and yours.

  2. Guy Bigfoot McDonald December 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you Sgt Joey Hill, I was a member of the Triple Nickel from 1981 – 1983. I was PE and known for building Custom fit Flight Helmets, and my call sign was/is Bigfoot.

  3. Jerry Barton December 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much Rick for the incredible website, and thanks Joey for sharing. I joined the USAF in 1976, 17 years old, and crewed the F4-Es in Osan, Korea. I went on to fly the RF-4 later in my career. Who would have thought 36 years later I would have the good fortune to secure such a terrific attorney and former Rhino driver. Phantoms forever – JB

  4. Sgt. Joey Hill February 1, 2013 at 12:26 am - Reply
    • Sievert June 16, 2017 at 7:08 am - Reply

      Hello, I am journalist and I am writing a report about CSAR in SEA. I will also write about the Roger Locher rescue. Is there any chance of getting a few HiRes pictures? Thank you for your support. KGS

  5. Ric Pepe July 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Upon returning from FWIC I was a fellow IP with Roger Locher at the 62nd TFS, MacDill AFB. I flew with Roger many times and worked with him on a daily basis in the “weapons shop”. I have never know a better person that Roger Locher.


  6. Steve Oxner November 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I was in the F4 radar lead in class with Roger, with the 56th CCTS at DM in 1970. Mild, easy going guy. One would never know what a warrior he really is,
    I heard some years ago, that he and Bob Lodge actually bagged another (4th) Mig,but never got credit.
    Steve Oxner, WSO
    34 TFS, Korat, 70-71

  7. Mike League October 15, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    I was there when Bob and Roger where hit. I can vouch that Bob said he would never be captured and would ride it in because he told me the exact same thing only days before he died. It was a sad day when they went down but a glorious day when Roger was returned. Sms League ret.

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