Recognizing Asian-Pacific Islander heritage

  • Published
  • By Capt. Luke Sturgeon
  • 92nd Operations Group executive officer
On Dec. 21, 1972, a B-52G laden with 750-pound bombs and aerial mines departed Anderson Air Force Base, Guam. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James Yoshikazu Nagahiro -- former member of Fairchild's 92nd Bomb Wing -- was the pilot in command of the seven-member crew.

Colonel Nagahiro's mission was part of the most concentrated air offensive of the war --President Richard Nixon's Linebacker II campaign, often dubbed "The Christmas Bombings." During the offensive, 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped on anti-aircraft and strategic targets, primarily in the region between Hanoi and Haiphong, in a concerted effort to force North Vietnam to release American prisoners of war and negotiate a cease fire.

Upon successfully completing their mission, Colonel Nagahiro and his crew were struck by a surface-to-air missile as they egressed the target area, forcing them to eject over hostile territory. He and two others were captured and detained at the infamous Hao Lo prison, known by American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton." On March 29, 1973, Colonel Nagahiro and the only other surviving member of his crew were released by the North Vietnamese government. Out of the three crewmembers captured, one died in captivity. Colonel Nagahiro retired from the Air Force at the rank of colonel.

Wyatt, Captain and Mrs. Frederick A., (USNR Ret). We Came Home. POW Publications, Toluca Lake, Calif., 1977.