John Cooley Ellison – Captain, United States Navy


John Cooley Ellison was born on December 16, 1928 and joined the Armed Forces while in Layton, Utah.

He served as an aviator in the United States Navy, VA 85, and attained the rank of Captain.

John Cooley Ellison is listed as Missing in Action.

There is a “In Memory Of” stone in his name in Arlington National Cemetery.

Captain “Buzz” Ellison was a Navy pilot shot down on March 24 1967. Buzz was declared missing in action for a number of years but his wife and children were tireless in their search for his whereabouts. Captain Ellison was finally categorized as “administratively dead” in 1980. May this American Hero rest in peace and may God bless his wife and children.  — Greg Reid

Lieutenant Commander was the pilot of an A6A Intruder jet aircraft that launched from the USS Kitty Hawk on March 24, 1967 on a combat mission over North Vietnam. Ellison's Bombardier/Navigator that day was Lieutenant (jg) James Plowman. The two were assigned to a strike force suppression mission against Bac Giang Thermal Power Plant in North Vietnam. They were to suppress surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites. The target was defended by SAM sites, light, medium and heavy anti-aircraft batteries, automatic weapons and small arms. After the “bombs away” call, the airborne Combat Information Officer tracked their aircraft about 11 miles north of the planed track. Radar indications disappeared in the vicinity of Ha Bac Province, North Vietnam. Although Ellison had radio contact with rescuers, he and Plowman were not rescued. Ha Bac Province is in extreme northern Vietnam near the border of China.

The families of Ellison and Plowman wonder what happened to their men that day. There is no indication that they died when their plane disappeared, and unofficial reports that they have been unable to verify suggest that one or both may have been captured. A photo of a POW in the front of a march conducted in China was identified by Navy officer and returned POW Robert Flynn who was released by the Chinese in 1973 as being James E. Plowman. Flynn also saw a photo of Ellison while held in China. Plowman's wife identified him from a North Vietnamese photo just prior to December 1970, and his parents identified him from a 1967 North Vietnamese photo. After Seaman Douglas Hegdahl was released from Hanoi in 1969, he told family members of Buzz Ellison that he had seen Buzz. Ellison and Plowman were maintained throughout the war as Missing In Action. Even though there seems to be some doubt that the two died and that they may have been prisoners after all, their status was never changed, and by 1980, they had been declared administratively dead. Although evidence existed that China held prisoners from the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war, the U.S. rushed towards friendly relations with that country, ignoring their best men. Today, there is evidence that Vietnam is holding hundreds of prisoners from the war in Vietnam, yet the U.S. is again signing the death warrants of her best men in the rush for normalization of relations.

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