FLYING THE GOON
1st Lt. George Michael Wall
Died April 22, 1970 in South Vietnam
1st Lt. George Michael Wall was born and raised in Houston, MS, the only child of Ervin Walls and Kathleen Roebuck. He began his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969 as a pilot in the 362nd Technical Electronic Warfare squadron. His squadron flew EC-47s, called the “Electronic Goon”, a World War II era aircraft that had been retrofitted with special electronic intelligence equipment. The squadron’s job was to fly reconnaissance missions in hostile areas, gathering much needed intelligence for the Army and Air Force.
1st Lt. Wall was on just such a mission on April 22, 1970. The EC-47 took off at 3:30am with a mission flight time of 6 hours. There were eight crew members aboard and 1st Lt. Wall was the aircraft commander. He was the pilot that day as he and his crew flew over the border between Laos and South Vietnam. The territory beneath them was swarming with Viet Cong soldiers.
1st Lt. Wall and his crew had almost completed their mission when their aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. His first option was to turn the plane back to the east and make it to their base. But the plane was too badly damaged to make it, with one engine already out. The second option was to land at a nearby airstrip, but it was reported that the airstrip was controlled by the Viet Cong. The last option was to abandon the plane and jump out, but the plane was far too low. 1st Lt. Wall ordered everyone to their seats and to prepare for a crash landing in the jungle. The rugged mountainous terrain made it impossible to find a spot suited for it. The entire crew went down knowing the jungle they were about to hit was thick with the enemy.
The EC-47 went in hard, losing its left wing after it clipped a tree. 1st Lt. Wall and radio operator Mike Conner died on impact. The rest of the six crew members escaped the crash with injuries. Within minutes a rescue helicopter showed up on site to pick up the survivors. Air Force aircraft and Army gunships also showed up to keep the Viet Cong away from the crash site due to the classified equipment inside.
After the survivors were picked up and the bodies of 1st Lt. Wall and Conner were taken out, the crashed EC-47 was blown up and completely burned. It was a horrifying ordeal for the men aboard the aircraft, but they all agreed that 1st Lt. Wall had done a remarkable job of getting the plane down. In what would be the last few minutes of his life, 1st Lt. Wall demonstrated the ability to respond calmly under intense pressure and ensure the safety of his crew.
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1st Lt. George Michael Wall of Houston, MS lost his life when the plane he was piloting was shot down over Laos, then crashed in South Vietnam.
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