This is the story of Major Robert Lodge and Captain Roger Locher getting their third MiG kill on May 10, 1972, then getting shot down by a MiG. Major Lodge refused to eject because he had vowed never to become a prisoner of war.
Captain Locher ejected and spent the next 22 days walking west in North Vietnam to get to an area where he could be rescued. On June 2, 1972, twenty-three days after he was shot down 119 U.S. aircraft were involved in Locher’s rescue.
Oyster 1, with pilot Maj. Robert Lodge and Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) Capt. Roger Locher, was the lead Phantom in Oyster Flight, a four-aircraft flight that, together with Baltar Flight, was tasked with providing MIGCAP (MiG Combat Air Patrol) air-to-air protection in pre-strike support operations against the Paul Doumer Bridge. Time on Target was scheduled for the eight planes at 9:45 a.m.
For more read “Roger Locher Talks about Getting Shot Down & Evading for 23 Days.” I urge you to watch General Steve Richie’s video in which he describes the loss of Oyster 1 and rescure of Roger Locher. Steve said the following about the rescue:
“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.