John Laurence Nalls

VMFA-542, MAG-11, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
09 June 1942 - 18 May 1969
Washington, District of Columbia
Panel 24W Line 046



Naval Flight Officer

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Laurence Nalls

25 May 2008

Uncle John died when the F-4 he was in flew into other aircraft that were refueling. He and the other crewmember, as well as all the men on the other plane were killed. My mom tells me that he had a good sense of humor and was a big tease. I just remember the one time he came home to my grandmothers and everyone gathered in the foyer to welcome him and his wife home. He died when he was 26 and had no children but left behind his parents and 2 brothers and 3 sisters that loved him very much. In the last letter my mom received from him before he was killed, he told my mom he would be with them on Christmas. My younger brother John was born at Christmas later that same year.

From his niece,
Janet Baden

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 18 May 1969 a Marine KC-130 was refueling two F-4B aircraft from VMFA-314 near Phu Bai, just south of Hue. As the three aircraft flew in formation, with the Phantoms plugged in and taking fuel, a third F-4B from VMFA-542 on an opposite track collided with the C-130's starboard wing near the #3 engine. The collision destroyed the VMFA-542 F-4, sheared the wing from the C-130, and inflicted damage to the VMFA-314 F-4 which was refueling from the starboard drogue.

While one VMFA-314 aircraft was undamaged and recovered at Chu Lai without difficulty, the second VMFA-314 F-4's two crewmen were forced to abandon their aircraft but were rescued. All eight men aboard the C-130 and VMFA-542 F-4 were killed in the accident:

  • VMGR-152, MAG-15 (KC-130F 149814)
    • Major Jimmy D. Sells, Gold Hill, NC, pilot
    • Major John C. Williamson, Oakland, CA, copilot
    • MGySgt Carroll F. Hersey, Wolfeboro, NH
    • MSgt Edmond C. Polenski, Worcester, MA
    • Sgt Robert A. Bonebright, Freeport, IL
    • Cpl James A. Cox, Independence, MO

  • VMFA-542, MAG-11 (F-4B 151001)
    • Capt John L. Nalls, Washington, DC
    • Capt Charles W. Pigott, East Providence, RI

  • VMFA-314, MAG-13
      F-4B 151450:
    • Major J. D. Moody (ejected; survived)
    • 1stLt Griffiths (ejected; survived)

      F-4B BuNo unknown, landed Chu Lai:
    • Major A. Gillespie
    • 1stLt V. Maddox

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 25 May 2008
Last updated 08/10/2009