Lieutenant Commander John Bethel Tapp - US Navy
VA - 93, Carrier Air Wing 9 - USS ENTERPRISE
Born 06 September,1933 - Harrodsburg, Ky
Graduate Harrodsburg High School
Attended Eastern Kentucky University from 1952 - 1954
Date last seen 23 March,1966 - South China Sea, North Vietnam
On 23 March 1966, as part of Operation Rolling Thunder, Lt Commander Tapp launched his Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Aircraft from the Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise as the leader of a nighttime armed reconnaissance mission into enemy territory in North Vietnam.
He navigated directly to his assigned target where he completed his attack on enemy installations. Anti-aircraft fire was observed in the area, but John reported no difficulty.
After departing the coast and returning from his 64th combat mission toward the Enterprise, he and his wingman checked each other’s aircraft for damage. None was observed.
At 8 miles out over the South China Sea, Lt Commander Tapp’s A-4 faded from the ship’s radar scope and he failed to respond to radio calls. 2 Helicopters and 2 Destroyers were immediately dispatched to the area to assist the search with the Enterprise.
The sky began to show signs of daybreak about an hour later and an oil slick was spotted. Scattered wreckage was recovered and identified as belonging to John’s aircraft.
Lt Commander John Bethel Tapp has never been found. He left behind a wife, a daughter and a son.
Links to Library of Congress Casualty files ;
This was not the only loss for the Tapp family. John had a Half Brother, who is also still Missing in Action;
Gunners Mate 3rd Class Lambert Ray Tapp US Navy
Born; 25 October, 1918 - Poole, Ky
Date last seen; 7 December, 1941 - USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
His name is inscribed on Court B of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.
Memorial Marker at Cypress Hills National Cemetery Brooklyn, Kings County, New York Plot: 3927
Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC Panel 6E, Line 43
Memorial marker at Shady Grove Cemetery, Poole, Webster County, Kentucky that he shares with his MIA Half Brother Lambert
Mercer County Veterans Memorial - Courthouse Lawn 224 S Main St, Harrodsburg, KY 40330