John Cooley Ellison

United States Navy
16 December 1928 - 05 September 1975
Layton, UT
Panel 17E Line 035

DFC (4 awards), Purple Heart, Air Medal (3 Strike/11 Flight), Navy Commendation, and lesser awards. CDR Ellison in VA-85 Ready Room aboard CVA-63
John Ellison is on the far right.

The database page for John Cooley Ellison

John Cooley Ellison entered the United States Naval Academy in 1948 and was graduated in 1952. He entered flight training in 1953, following a tour of duty aboard USS BATAAN (CVL-29). He qualified in the F-9F Cougar and deployed to the far east with VF-144 aboard the USS BOXER and USS HORNET. Following a tour of duty with the Air Training Command (1957-60), he was assigned to VF-41 and served in the Mediterranean. He then was assigned to duty with the US Air Force, flying the F-104 Starfighter with the 435th TFS, George AFB, California. During this tour, he earned his first Distinguished Flying Cross for saving an F-104 following severe in-flight damage to the aircraft.

Upon completion of this tour, he returned to Naval Air Station Oceana, VA, for qualification in the A-6A Intruder. He twice deployed to Southeast Asia with Attack Squadron 85 aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CVA-63). He and LT(jg) Jim Plowman were shot down during the second deployment.

A memorial to John Ellison - husband, father, friend.

From his family
02 Jan 2001

In 1967 Attack Squadron 85 (call sign BUCKEYE), operating the A-6A INTRUDER, deployed aboard USS KITTY HAWK. On 24 March, LCDR John "Buzz" Ellison and LTJG Jim Plowman launched in A-6A BuNo 151587 as part of a strike force directed against the Bac Giang thermal power plant in North Vietnam. The target was heavily defended by SAMs and a full spectrum of conventional anti-aircraft weaponry. Ellison and Plowman were tasked with SAM suppression for the bombers.

After the strike was completed, friendly radar flight following tracked the BUCKEYE aircraft as it headed toward the Gulf of Tonkin, but the track terminated in the vicinity of Ha Bac Province near the Vietnam/China border. Combat SAR was initiated. Voice contact was achieved with LCDR Ellison, but neither he nor Plowman was rescued. Both men were placed in "Missing in Action" status.

The North Vietnamese never acknowledged capturing either Ellison or Plowman, nor did they report that either man had been killed. However, there is evidence that both men survived.

Even so, the two men were never placed in POW status, and on 5 Sep 1975 the Secretary of the Navy approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for now-Captain Ellison, changing his status to "Died while Missing".

While I had only a slight acquaintance with these two men -- I joined VA-85 after their loss -- they are not forgotten.

Ken Davis
A-6 Aircrewman, Attack Squadron 85

27 Jan 2004

Buzz Ellison was our Operations Officer in VA-85 in the spring of 1967 and I I had trained in the A6 RAG, VA-42, with Jim Plowman, Buzz's B/N.

I still wear an MIA bracelet to remember Buzz and Jim.

I will continue to wear the MIA bracelet until their remains are returned and the true story of their loss is explained to all.

From a squadronmate,
Tom Murphy
VA-85 (1966-1969)

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his family, 
02 Jan 2001

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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 02/03/2004