Gary Lee Conaway

Aviation Machinist 1st Class
VP-1, TF 72, 7TH FLEET
United States Navy
22 October 1938 - 24 October 1967
Blue Mound, IL
Panel 28E Line 059


USN Aircrew
Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Gary Lee Conaway

06 Jun 2002

Gary L. Conaway, ADR1
United States Navy

In the fall of 1967, Patrol Squadron One (VP-1) was deployed to Naval Air Station, Sangley Point in the Republic of the Philippines. The Squadron had a detachment in Cam Ranh Bay, and the planes and crews rotated back and forth, spending about two weeks in Viet Nam on each cycle. VP-1's mission in Viet Nam was known as Operation Market Time. This mission required continuous patrols along coastal waters of South Viet Nam in order to prevent infiltration of enemy supplies or troops from the sea. Our aircraft was the Lockheed, P2V-7 Neptune which carried a crew of 11. Petty Officer Conaway was a member of my crew.

Gary was the Plane Captain of Crew 8 and leader of the six other enlisted crew members. He was a dedicated worker whose mechanical skills enabled him to detect the smallest problem with the aircraft and made sure it was fixed before the next flight. Gary was a pleasure to fly with and always performed the task given him with a sense of commitment and professionalism. He did everything asked of him, and more.

The flight schedule at Cam Ranh Bay was very demanding since operations were conducted 24 hours a day. Off duty time was minimal, but when possible, the crews frequently went swimming at a nearby beach as a way to relax. On the evening of October 23rd, Crew Eight began a long nighttime patrol that lasted almost 9 hours. After landing early the next morning, some of the crew decided to go for a swim. Tragically, there was a hidden undertow in the normally placid waters of the South China Sea that day. Petty Officer Conaway and a second crew member became trapped in the rip current and could not make it back to shore. When the rescue helicopter arrived, it was too late. Both men had drowned. Their friends tried to help them, but were unsuccessful, barely surviving themselves.

War claims lives in many ways. Not all deaths occur as a result of enemy fire, but each death is a heartrending tragedy for surviving family, friends and comrades. Gary Conaway died in the service of our country, and his death was a great loss to all who knew him.

Mel Hinton
Lieutenant, USNR (1967)
Plane Commander,
VP-1, Crew 8

07 Mar 2003

This man was my cousin and even though I never got to meet him I know he was a great man ... I wish that he was here now helping us fight the war that we will be entering soon.

Danielle Lynne Conaway

19 Sep 2003

I would just like for his family to know that I have worn two of his bracelets over the years, although I did not know him. I left the first very worn one near his name at the Springfield Wall, and if you would be interested in having the one I have on now, please contact me at

Thank You for sharing this person with me for so long. I know he had to have been a special man.

Ruth Trimpe

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his plane commander,
Mel Hinton
Lieutenant, USNR (1967) 
06 Jun 2002

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 09/19/2003