Roger Locher
USAF officer
Roger Locher
Roger Clinton Locher is a former F-4D Phantom weapons officer and pilot who during the Vietnam War and Operation Linebacker was shot down only from Hanoi, North Vietnam. The 23 days Locher spent behind enemy lines evading capture was a record for downed airmen during the war. USAF General Vogt "shut down the war" and sent 119 aircraft to recover him. His rescue was the deepest inside North Vietnam during the entire War.
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  • 2010
    Age 63
    He retired in Sabetha, Kansas, where he resided as of April, 2010.
    More Details Hide Details The TV series Dogfights on the History Channel depicted the dogfight of May 10, 1972 in Season 2, Episode 10, The Bloodiest Day shown on December 3, 2007.
  • 1972
    Age 25
    Fortunately for the Americans, during the second half of May 1972 their increasingly fierce attacks on Yen Bai had forced elements of the VPAF 925th Fighter Regiment to relocate to Gia Lam Airfield.
    More Details Hide Details Capt. Ronald E. Smith and his wingman, Capt. "Buck" Buchanan, in A1-Es, went in ahead to locate Locher. Antiaircraft fire aimed at the A1-Es, seen by both the pilots and Locher, served as a reference point to locate Locher, and the A1-E's returned to guide in the rescue helicopters. Smith told Locher to flash the first A-1 he saw with his signal mirror. Upon their return, Buck saw Locher's mirror flash, told Locher to "pop" his "smoke", and guided Capt. Dale Stovall, piloting an HH-53C from the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, to Locher's position. "Locher's flare went unseen, and Stovall overflew his position and had to double back. Spotting the flash from Locher's signal mirror, Stovall hovered over the steep slope, rotors dangerously close to the trees, and lowered a jungle penetrator under enemy fire. Only when Locher rose out of the jungle canopy riding the jungle penetrator were all of the Americans sure it was him. Despite their proximity to Yen Bai air base, no aircraft were lost during Locher's rescue. "We shut down the war to go get Roger Locher," Stovall later said.
    On June 1, 1972, he was finally able to contact a flight of American jets overhead, calling, "Any U.S. aircraft, if you read Oyster 1 Bravo, come up on Guard".
    More Details Hide Details R. Stephen Ritchie, in one of the F-4 aircraft overhead and who had witnessed Locher's jet fall out of the sky, remembered Locher's call sign and answered his call. Locher calmly responded, "Guys I've been down here a long time, any chance of picking me up?" Ritchie replied, "You bet!" Locher's transmissions left some Americans who did not hear his call in doubt about the authenticity of his message, and they believed that the NVA may have manipulated a POW into impersonating him, setting a trap for the would-be rescuers. An SAR mission of several A-1H and two HH-53C with F-4 and F- 105 fighters providing air protection was launched that same day (June 1) but was driven off by heavy anti-aircraft fire and MiGs. The A-1 Skyraider and HH-53C pilots came under attack from a MiG but eluded the enemy fighter in a narrow canyon. The rescue force then dodged missiles, another MiG and gunfire, but failed to get through to Locher that day.
    On May 8, 1972, Major Robert Lodge and Captain Locher responded to a request for assistance from Red Crown from fighters who were engaging MiGs near Yên Bái.
    More Details Hide Details Their element leader was Stephen Ritchie and Charles B. DeBellevue in Oyster 03. They scored their third MiG kill, placing them in the lead of all USAF crews then flying in Southeast Asia. Two days later, on May 10, at 9:23 a.m., Oyster Flight was warned by EC-121 Disco over Laos, and then by the US Navy radar picket ship Red Crown, of four MiGs headed towards them. These were from the 921st Fighter Wing. Four J-9s were also flying CAP to protect the Thac Ba hydroelectric power station. The Americans engaged an equal number of MiG-21s head-on, scattering them. Lodge and Locher identified two hostile contacts miles south of Yên Bái. They attacked in a modified fluid-four formation and accelerated to 1.4 mach. At 9:48 they fired two AIM-7 missiles, and the second destroyed one of the MiGs.
    On May 10, 1972, the first major day of air combat in Operation Linebacker, Locher's group was one of two flights of the F-4D MiGCap for the morning strike force.
    More Details Hide Details Oyster Flight, composed of four F-4s from the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, had three of its Phantoms equipped with the top secret Combat Tree IFF interrogators. The APX-80 electronic set could read the IFF signals of the transponders built into the MiGs so that North Vietnamese radar would not shoot down their own aircraft. Displayed on a scope in the WSO's cockpit, Combat Tree gave the Phantoms the ability to identify and locate MiGs when they were still beyond visual range.
    On February 21, 1972, Locher took part in the first U.S. Air Force aerial victory in four years at night over northeast Laos, about southwest of Hanoi.
    More Details Hide Details Maj. Robert A. Lodge was pilot and Locher was the weapon systems officer in an F-4D flying combat air patrol to interdict North Vietnamese MiGs (MIGCAP). The two men were the most experienced crew in Southeast Asia. Red Crown, the call sign for the radar-equipped USS Long Beach stationed in the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin, "called out bandits (MIGs) at our 060° position and proceeded to vector us on an intercept,” recalls Maj. Lodge. During the air battle, they shot down a MiG-21.
  • 1969
    Age 22
    Locher attended Kansas State University, where he participated in ROTC, and then joined the Air Force in 1969.
    More Details Hide Details He completed navigator training and was assigned to the F-4 Phantom II. He received transition training at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, and was then sent to the "Triple Nickel" 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Udorn, Thailand.
  • 1946
    Born on September 13, 1946.
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