View Full Version : Earthquake McGoon Goes Home

20th Oct 2006, 08:42
Legendary pilot 'Earthquake McGoon' heads home (http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/19/earthquake.mcgoon.ap/index.html)

NEW YORK (AP) -- More than a half century after he died in the flaming crash of a CIA-owned cargo plane and became one of the first two Americans to die in combat in Vietnam, a legendary soldier of fortune known as "Earthquake McGoon" is coming home.

The skeletal remains of James B. McGovern Jr., discovered in an unmarked grave in remote northern Laos in 2002, were positively identified on September 11 by laboratory experts at the U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii. They will be flown back to the mainland next week for a military funeral in New Jersey on October 28, said McGovern's nephew, James McGovern III, of Forked River, New Jersey.

"Bottom line, it's closure for my family and a great feeling," McGovern said.

Six feet and 260 pounds -- huge for a fighter pilot -- McGovern carved out a flying career during and after World War II that made him a legend in Asia. An American saloon owner in China dubbed him "Earthquake McGoon," after a hulking hillbilly character in the comic strip "Li'l Abner."

He died May 6, 1954, when his C-119 Flying Boxcar cargo plane was hit by ground fire while parachuting a howitzer to the besieged French garrison at Dien Bien Phu. "Looks like this is it, son," McGovern radioed another pilot as his crippled plane staggered 75 miles into Laos, where it cartwheeled into a hillside.

Killed along with "McGoon," 31, were his co-pilot, Wallace Buford, 28, and a French crew chief. Two cargo handlers, a Frenchman and a Thai, were thrown clear and survived.

Ho Chi Minh's communist forces captured Dien Bien Phu the next day, ending a 57-day siege that had captured the world's attention. It signaled the end of French colonial power in Indochina, and helped set the stage for the 15-year "American war" that ended with the fall of the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government in 1975...............

20th Oct 2006, 21:58
The man



24th May 2007, 19:24
Updated:2007-05-24 11:59:38
Flier Earthquake McGoon Gets Arlington Burial

NEW YORK (May 23) - Fifty-three years after he was shot down on a desperate cargo-delivery flight over Vietnam, a legendary pilot and soldier of fortune known as Earthquake McGoon will be buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery .

Earthquake McGoon, whose real name was James B. McGovern Jr., was one of the first two Americans killed in the Vietnam conflict . His remains were recovered from an unmarked grave in a remote northern Laos village in 2002 and identified last year by forensic experts at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

But a family fued among relatives in New Jersey, in part about burial plans, stalled his interment. Meanwhile, former colleagues of McGovern in World War II and Indochina tried to arrange an Arlington burial to coincide with a planned "final reunion" of pilots who flew in China and French Indochina with Civil Air Transport, a postwar airline secretly owned by the CIA.

McGovern, who weighed 260 pounds and was nicknamed after a hulking character in the hillbilly comic strip "Li'l Abner," was killed May 6, 1954, while air-dropping an artillery piece to the trapped French garrison at Dien Bien Phu. His C-119 "Flying Boxcar" cargo plane, crippled by anti-aircraft fire, continued 75 miles into Laos and crashed on a hillside.

The crash also killed his co-pilot, Wallace Buford, and a French flight engineer. Three other French Legionnaires survived the crash and were captured by communist troops, but one died later. The remains of Buford, of Kansas City, Mo., were never found.

Dien Bien Phu fell to Ho Chi Minh's communist-led revolutionary army the next day, dooming the French colonial regime in Indochina.

McGovern and Buford, both civilians at the time, were the first two Americans killed in fighting in Vietnam, where ensuing warfare would kill nearly 60,000 Americans and more than a million Vietnamese over the next two decades.

Earthquake McGoon was a flamboyant figure who became famous in the early 1950s for his escapades. As a member of an Air Force squadron descended from the famed Flying Tigers, he shot down four Japanese planes and destroyed others on the ground.

His adventures included being captured by communist Chinese troops who freed him because he called them "liars" for not letting him go; winning a clutch of dancing girls in a poker game; and setting free a group of Japanese POWs on a beach rather than follow orders to "dump cargo" after he developed engine trouble.

Possible graves were spotted in the Laotian village of Ban Sot in the late 1990s by an analyst for the Hawaii-based POW/MIA Accounting Command, which searches for missing Americans in Asia and elsewhere.

In 2002, a JPAC team led by anthropologist Peter Miller found one of the graves contained remains that were later identified by forensic experts as those of McGovern.

Chimbu chuckles
25th May 2007, 17:18

About 2/3rds the way down this page are some pictures taken by an escorting C119 of McGovern's 119 after it was hit and some pictures of the actual crash.

Plus some fascinating links to CAT with a huge number of photos of crews and C46s.

A fascinating period of history.