Project: Get Out and Walk 



United States Air Force 390th TFS

F-4C Phantom II


14th June 1967

366th TFW
Danang AB
Lieutenant Edward "Ed" John Mechenbier
1 Lt  Kevin Joseph McManus

" Chisel 04"

Ed Mechenbier was shot down on his 113th mission, his 80th over North Vietnam near Vu Chu RR Yard, 30 miles NE of Hanoi, NVN while flying McDonnell F-4 Phantom II,  callsign " Chisel 04" .

"On 14 June 1967 I went down on a strike mission on the northeast railroad near Kep. Kevin Mcmanus was my backseater.

"The aircraft right engine exploded simultaneous with lighting the afterburner pulling off the target.  Soon the fire burned through the hydraulic system for the ailerons and the aircraft entered a series of six snap rolls to the right, which I could almost stop with full left rudder.  But with each roll, the nose lowered until it was 45 degrees below the horizon and gaining speed.  The last I saw was 620 KIAS when we decided it was not going to recover."

"I owe my life to Kevin.  I was “wrestling” with the airplane trying to make it fly as would any fighter pilot when this calm voice from about five feet behind me said, “Ed, I don’t think we’re going to make it.” 

That brought me to reality and I said, “Bail out Kevin, bail out.”  He paused and we went practically simultaneously as I had always told him, if he heard the second “bailout” he would be solo.  He paused long enough to say, “Sayonara” and we went simultaneously, inverted according to the other aircraft ejecting out of the orange fireball that had completely engulfed the aircraft.  

    "Everything happened in slow motion."

The aircraft reportedly hit the ground at 620 KIAS before our chutes opened.  So, we came very close to riding it in and it was only Kevin’s comment that moved me to give the Bail Out command."

During ejection and captivity, I suffered from crushed vertebrae, Compression fracture of lower back…used to be an inch taller dislocated shoulders and broken teeth."

I spent 5 yrs, 8 months and 4 days in captivity (but who's counting).


Photo By SRA Chris Polites


Reserve Maj. Gen. Ed Mechenbier, the Air Force's last Vietnam-era former prisoner of war still serving, retired on 30 June, 2004

When the Vietnam War ended, Mechenbier returned to the US on a C-141 StarLifter, affectionately named the Hanoi Taxi. On 29 May of this year, he flew that same aircraft back to Hanoi on his final flight, bringing home the remains of two service members listed as missing in action.

photo via Ed Mechenbier

 My last official photo from the Air Force when I retired in 2004



photo taken at release, 1973


Good site with lots of information to help our failing minds and memories. 

Maj.Gen. Ed Mechenbier
March 2006


      Some extracts used in this Biography  were  provided thanks to the generosity of Charles and Mary Schantag  who also gave permission to include the  following POWNET biography  link               (please use your browser Back Arrow to return to this page)

Lieutenant Edward J. Mechenbier