John Anthony Feldhaus – Commander, United States Navy


JOHN ANTHONY FELDHAUS was born on October 3, 1938 and joined the Armed Forces while in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.

He served as a Naval Aviator in the United States Navy and attained the rank of Commander. He was listed as Missing In Action on October 8, 1966.

Vietnam War MIA Identified, Laid to Rest at Arlington
Story Number: NNS011207-02
Release Date: 12/7/2001
By Jerome W. Mapp, Navy News Service

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family in the United States. Identified is Cmdr. John A. Feldhaus, of Lawrenceberg, Tennessee.

Feldhaus was buried with full military honors November 20, 2001, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He is survived by four children and seven grandchildren. His widow, Suzanne, died in 1987.

During the service, Navy F/A-18 Hornets performed the traditional flyover with aircraft assembled in the “missing man” formation. Among his medals, Feldhaus wore the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.

On October 8, 1966, Feldhaus took off from the carrier USS Oriskany (CVA 34) in an A-1H Skyraider on an armed reconnaissance mission over Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam.

As he and his wingman entered heavy clouds, Feldhaus radioed that he had been hit by enemy ground fire and his right wing was on fire.

His wingman never saw Feldhaus' aircraft again, but he did report seeing a fireball on the ground which he believed to be an aircraft crash.

The wingman and another aircraft searched the area of the crash without success. They saw no parachute and heard no emergency radio signals. The visual search was hampered by enemy ground fire and deteriorating weather. The search continued for several days, but revealed nothing.

In October 1993, a joint U.S./Vietnamese team led by Joint Task Force-Full Accounting conducted an investigation in Thanh Hoa Province where they believed the crash occurred, but they found no aircraft debris or remains.

Between 1996 and 2000, another four investigations or excavations were conducted in Vietnam, yielding aircraft debris, pilot-related artifacts, personal effects and remains.

The U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) used mitochondrial DNA to confirm the identification. The process involved matching a skeletal fragment to that of a Feldhaus family member.

“There is finally some closure,” wrote Jeff Feldhaus, one of two surviving sons, in an e-mail interview. “It's been a long time in coming … 35 years. I am glad he is home and to be buried where he belongs with all the other heroes of our country.”

There are currently more than 1,900 Americans unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia.

From a contemporary press report: 16 November 2001:

35 years after his death, Navy pilot to rest in peace at Arlington

His name was John Anthony Feldhaus.

But perhaps only his late mother and the nuns at Sacred Heart School in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, where he attended grade school, called him John Anthony.

To everyone of a certain age — born before the Vietnam War — he was Jack or  Jackie: second son of a brick mason, a give-it-all tackle on the county high school's football team, a firm-jawed young man with an eye for adventure.

To a generation born after the war in Southeast Asia, he was a name on a marker, a grave containing no body.

Feldhaus, a Navy lieutenant, was shot down over North Vietnam's Thanh Hoa province. His A-1H Skyraider was struck by enemy fire as he returned from a bombing mission. The plane went down on October 8, 1966, five days after his 28th birthday.

There was no evidence that Feldhaus, a father of four, survived the crash, and he officially remained missing in action, until he was declared dead about a decade later. The pilot's remains lay in the field where the single-engine bomber drilled a  20-foot-deep crater.

It appeared the rice field would be his permanent final resting place until last month, when the service informed Feldhaus' children and siblings that DNA testing had positively identified remains from the crash as the late Navy aviator.

Tuesday morning, his children and siblings will bury their father and brother with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

”The Navy's going to do it right. There will be a 21-gun salute and a flyover of jets, if the authorities allow it,” said Larry Feldhaus, the oldest of the siblings, now retired and living in Hendersonville.

”It's good that this is finally going to happen. We've waited a long time.”

With only 18 months separating them, the two oldest Feldhaus boys were good friends, most of the time. ”People would say they'd see us walking to school and we'd be fighting on one block and laughing in the next block,” Larry reminisced yesterday, a photo of his uniformed brother in his lap.

”The last time I saw him was August of 1966. He had flown his plane into Dobbins Air Force Base outside of Atlanta, and I met him there,” Larry said, a solemn look on his face.

”He wanted to know if I would be executor of his will.”

Just in case something happened over there.

Jack Feldhaus didn't have to go to Vietnam. He had been a Navy pilot for several years and was an aviation instructor in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he could have safely served out his Navy tenure and, perhaps, switched to a commercial airline after leaving.

”He never wanted to be on the sidelines. He always liked being in the thick of things,” said Jimmy Moore, a high school friend who also still lives in Lawrenceburg. Moore was one of five friends, including Jack, who were inseparable during their high school years.

”The last time I saw him he said he wanted to go to Vietnam. He was a career man and wanted to make rank,” said former Lawrenceburg City Commissioner Billy Helton, another of the group of five.

In reality, he was promoted. During the period when the downed pilot was MIA, he was promoted to commander.

Jack Feldhaus perished while returning to the USS Oriskany after a bombing mission over North Vietnam.

”The reports state that he still had some bombs and he dipped down below cloud cover to attack some trucks. He radioed another plane that stayed up above that he had been hit. That pilot said that he saw evidence of a crash, smoke and fire,” Larry
Feldhaus said.

Late on that early fall night, a Navy officer arrived in Lawrenceburg to inform the pilot's parents.

The lieutenant's 7-year-old kid sister answered the door.

”I remember it vividly,” said Mary Ann Sanders, now a math teacher at a junior high school in Katy, Texas, near Houston.

”Him being missing was a big focus all the time I was growing up. Whenever there would be POWs on the television, the Navy would call us to see if we saw him. Then after he was declared dead, we always waited for them to make positive identification,” Sanders said in a telephone interview.

”My mother always wanted to know that he had been brought back.”

Margaret Feldhaus died in May, just days after the report on the DNA match was completed. The Navy did not compile all of its findings until last month, 35 years after the Lawrenceburg man's plane crashed on the other side of the globe.

“It really would have been nice for her to know, but she knows now,” Sanders said. ”I'm very sure about that.”

Wednesday, 11/21/01

Tennessee hero from another war finally laid to rest


WASHINGTON — Three Navy fighter jets thundering over the burial ceremony for John Anthony Feldhaus at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday were a far cry from the single-engine, propeller-driven bomber the late Navy pilot was flying when he was shot down over North Vietnam in 1966.

But 40 of Feldhaus' relatives — including all four of his children — and friends attending his funeral with full military honors at the nation's premier military cemetery appreciated the sentiment.

“It was exceptional — the best thing they could have done,” said Jeff Feldhaus of Houston, one of John Feldhaus' sons. ”He got everything he deserved.”

John Feldhaus of Lawrenceburg had just turned 28 when his A-1H Skyraider was hit by enemy fire over Thanh Hoa province as he was returning from a bombing mission. The military listed him as missing in action and promoted him to Commander before declaring him dead after about a decade.

His body remained in the 20-foot crater from the crash until it was recovered 35 years later, and his siblings and children were told earlier this year that DNA testing had positively identified the remains as the naval aviator.

Feldhaus was the second Tennessean to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in less than two months. Lieutenant Commander Otis Vincent Tolbert, a Navy  intelligence officer born in Millington, near Memphis, and killed in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, was buried September 27, 2001.

Pamela Smith of Houston, the oldest of John Feldhaus' children, was 8 years old when her father was shot down. She said the funeral ”brought back the loss.” She and her siblings already are older than her father was at his death.

”What I remember a lot is missing him and wondering where he was and what he was doing,” she said.

Amanda Rose, who was only 4 when her father died, said it was an honor to be at the funeral.

”I really don't know much about my father — just what other family members have told me,” she said.

The services began yesterday with a Mass of Christian burial in a cemetery chapel and included a ceremonial honor guard of a 23-man Navy rifle platoon, a colors unit and a band. Six sailors were pallbearers and made a precision drill out of moving the
flag-draped casket from the hearse to the chapel.

After Mass, the mourners and honor guard accompanied a caisson pulled by six gray horses carrying the casket to a grave site under bright sun and brisk northern wind. The short service featured the band playing The Navy Hymn, the fly-over, three volleys from a seven-man rifle squad and a bugler playing taps.

The folded American flag was presented along with a note of condolence from Navy Secretary Gordon R. England to Rose and John A. Feldhaus Jr., another of the late aviator's sons. Both now live in Trenton, New Jersey.

Henry Feldhaus, a cousin and former mayor of Shelbyville, said the family had always held out some slim hope the naval aviator was alive until his remains were positively identified.

”He basically helped preserve our freedom — like the boys are doing today,” he said.


Filed for intro on 01/14/2002
By White

A RESOLUTION to honor the memory of Commander John Anthony Feldhaus and his meritorious service to the United States.

WHEREAS, our nation was conceived by individuals who were willing to sacrifice their personal safety and concerns to ensure our individual and collective freedom, and the Volunteer State is especially proud to be the home of so many valiant men and women who have performed above and beyond the call of duty; and

WHEREAS, thousands of Tennesseans have continued this time-honored tradition of volunteerism through service in the United States Navy; and

WHEREAS, John Anthony Feldhaus was one such estimable Tennessean who served with courage and conviction; a native of Lawrenceburg, “Jack” Feldhaus was wholly devoted to his Nation and countrymen, and he made the ultimate sacrifice while serving as a Naval Aviator; and

WHEREAS, having been a Pilot in the United States Navy for several years at the onset of the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Feldhaus could have completed his tenure as an instructor in a stateside flight school, but he made the patriotic decision to volunteer his vast talents to be utilized in Vietnam; and

WHEREAS, while returning to the USS Oriskany after a bombing mission, Lieutenant Feldhaus, as was his nature, went above and beyond the call of duty to complete an elective attack, utilizing his excess ordinance; his A-1H was struck by enemy fire and went down, and Lieutenant Feldhaus was thereafter declared missing in action; and

WHEREAS, promoted to Commander while classified MIA, John Anthony Feldhaus was eventually presumed lost; and WHEREAS, although it initially appeared that Vietnam would remain his final resting place, the body of Commander Feldhaus was recently located and positively identified by the Navy, allowing a return to his native land for burial; and

WHEREAS, Commander Feldhaus has long occupied a revered position in the history of our Nation and its Armed Forces, and he now rests in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery among his fellow courageous patriots who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of current and future citizens of their Nation; and

WHEREAS, Commander Feldhaus served with great bravery and ability and performed his duties with the utmost skill, dedication, and professionalism; his service could only be categorized as outstanding and he has earned all honor and recognition that we could possibly bestow; now, therefore,


That we join with the family of Commander John Anthony Feldhaus to honor
his memory, reflecting fondly on his selfless devotion, unsurpassed moral courage, and meritorious service to the United States Navy, and we express our pride in, and gratitude for, his supreme contributions to this State and our Nation.


That an appropriate copy of this resolution be prepared for presentation with this final clause omitted from such copy.


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