Accident Grumman A-6A Intruder 154149, Monday 30 September 1968
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Date:Monday 30 September 1968
Type:Silhouette image of generic A6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Grumman A-6A Intruder
Owner/operator:VA-196, US Navy
Registration: 154149
MSN: I-284
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Yen Thanh, N of Vinh, Nghe An Province, North Vietnam -   Vietnam
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:USS Constellation (CVA-64) off Vietnam coast
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
A-6A Intruder BuNo. 154149/'NK-404' (Call Sign MILESTONE 404) of VA-196, US Navy as part of CVW-14 on board the USS Constellation (CV-64). Lost on combat operations September 30 1968: Probable SAM hit during night armed reconnaissance mission near Yen Thanh, north of Vinh, Nghe An Province, North Vietnam at approximate Coordinates: 18'54.00"N 105'32.00"E

While on a night armed reconnaissance mission, aircraft was shot down by SAMS in North Vietnam at 21:02 hrs. A few seconds after Commander Spinelli reported missiles. His last radio communication relayed, "This is Milestone 404. Two missiles lifting, 19, coast." Another pilot tried to contact the aircraft but was unsuccessful. About 20 seconds later, an explosion was observed that lit up a large portion of the horizon. Wreckage was seen on the ground but no parachutes were observed and no contact was established with the crew. The aircraft was fired on near the 19th parallel; the pilot was trying for the coast to facilitate rescue. Another A-6A in the vicinity observed two SAMS detonate; 20 seconds later a large explosion was observed on the radar. An E-2A received one sweep of IFF emergency and nothing more.

Both crew members - Lt. (JG) Larry Jack Van Renselaar (pilot) and Lt Domenick Anthony "Spike" Spinelli (Bombardier/Navigator) - were listed as missing in action. Reports later stated that the crew's last call was a warning about two SAMs being launched against them.

A Radio Hanoi broadcast on October 1, 1968 was received which alluded to the shooting down of an A-6 jet plane on September 30, 1968. This aircraft was downed over Nghe An Province and the fate of the crew was not mentioned. The status of Lt Van Renselaar was officially changed to KIA with effect from November 13 1978. In the fall of 1989, the remains of Larry Van Renselaar were "discovered" by the Vietnamese and returned to U.S. control. On June 22, 1990 the Armed Forces Identification Review Board approved the identification of these remains as Lieutenant VanRenselaar.

During Operation Homecoming in March 1973, a returnee, Lieutenant Tangeman, stated that he knew the name Spinelli but he did not know him as a POW. In the late 1970s, Tangeman was visited by Spinelli's next of kin. During that visit, he finally recalled why he recognized the name;both he and Lieutenant Spinelli had been at the same naval air training facility before going to Vietnam. Lieutenant Spinelli's family alleged the existence of a photo depicting Spinelli in captivity. His ultimate fate is still unknown, but is presumed to have been Killed


1. A-6 Intruder Units of the Vietnam War By Rick Morgan

Revision history:

23-Aug-2011 11:18 Uli Elch Added
20-Mar-2016 02:14 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
20-Mar-2016 02:16 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
20-Mar-2016 02:18 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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