Darrell E. Pyle

POW 1966 – 1973

Name: Darrell Edwin Pyle
Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 480th TFS
Date of Birth: 25 April 1940
Home City of Record: Compton CA
Date of Loss: 13 June 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam

Loss Coordinates: 173800 North 1062200 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Other Personnel in Incident: Alan Lurie, returnee

On 1 February 1966 the squadron departed the USA for assignment at Danang AB. Lurie was then the aircraft commander of an F4C Phantom fighter bomber. On June 13, 1966, while on an armed reconnaissance mission in the southern part of North Vietnam, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and became uncontrollable. Both ejected, but Lurie ejected from low altitude (about 350 feet at 450 knots), and sustained a compression fracture of the spine.

The DRV used Plye, the Systems Operator and Lurie as a traveling show until 29 June when they arrived in Hanoi and were thrown into Hoa Lo prison, more commonly known as the Hanoi Hilton.

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).

Captain – United States Air Force
Shot Down: June 13, 1966
Released: February 12, 1972

The day was February 12, 1973. The location was Gia Lam Airport, North Vietnam. The sky was broken to overcast and the air was chilled by the winds which swept down from China. I sat in a bus beside a bombed-out hangar and watched a plane taxiing toward the runway. The plane was a 141 and had big letters which said, “UNITED STATES AIR FORCE.” I was crying. Before the plane could take off another 141 broke through the overcast and roared over my head. My plane – my chariot had come to take me home.

Home. What is home? Home is America. What is America? Is America 200 million people who will look at me in disgust and throw things at me because I’ve given seven years of my life to a cause I so fervently believe in? Is America thousands of people carrying Viet Cong flags down the main streets of America? Is America Jane Fonda and Ramsey Clark who tell me I’ve been well treated when I can too vividly recall the horrors of the past years? What is America?

America – America is thousands of people holding signs which say, “We Love You.” America is people holding Old Glory and shouting, “WELCOME HOME!” America is a bumper sticker, a bracelet, a hand shake, a hug, a letter. America is 2 tear drop in the eye of a stranger. America is a huge sign: YOU WERE NEVER FORGOTTEN.

As you read this hold your head high and puff out your chest. What is America? You are America – be proud.

Darell Pyle was killed in a plane crash in Alaska in 1974.

Darrel Pyle was born on April 25, 1940, in Compton, California. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, on November 5, 1963, and he completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Webb AFB, Texas, in 1964. Lt Pyle was next assigned to the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, before flying combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron at DaNang AB in the Republic of Vietnam beginning in August 1965.

Lt Pyle was forced to eject over North Vietnam on June 13, 1966, and was taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,437 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, California, before being assigned to the 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Maj Pyle was killed in the crash of his Piper Super Cub on December 27, 1974. He left behind his wife Elaine and 9 year old son, Philip.

His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:

For the period September 1966 to January 1967: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. During this period, Captain Pyle resisted more than forty days of extreme physical and mental torture administered by his North Vietnamese captors. His resistance and resolve was stronger after this ordeal and when given the opportunity to write letters home, he took advantage and used his letter to his family as a vehicle to transmit other prisoner of war names by cleverly thought-out word associations and innuendoes, which proved successful. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Captain Pyle reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.