Charles Edward Pressler

Lieutenant (junior grade)
United States Navy
11 October 1945 - 16 March 1970
Bay Village, Ohio
Panel 12W Line 008



Naval Flight Officer

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Charles Edward Pressler

23 Oct 2001

Tim, as he was known to all of us, lived life to the fullest. I have fond memories of the childhood times we spent together. I will never forget the time he broke the family swing set trying to lift a 400 cu. inch Ford engine out of his car.

He always shared all he had with his loving family, including the FUBAR II, a hand crafted wood boat that sank one day in a storm on Lake Erie.

He helped guide me through my adolescent years by introducing me to fast cars and alcohol.

I will never forget his great home inventions including a home made rifle, a home made electrical circuit breaker, and his home made go-carts.

He was and always will remain my loving brother.

Thomas E Pressler

Mission Notes

The EC-121 Warning Star was a radar flight following and communications/electronics surveillance aircraft, a variant on the civilian Super Constellation. EC-121s from the Air Force and Navy routinely operated over the Gulf of Tonkin providing support to combat aircraft "over the beach" in North Vietnam. The EC-121 Warning Star was a large aircraft, far too big to operate from carriers, and was based ashore in Vietnam and/or the Philippines.

Shortly after 11 AM on 16 March 1970 EC-121 BuNo 145927 of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE (VQ-1) approached Danang at the end of a ferry flight from Taiwan. One of the big airplane's four engines had been shut down en route due to a generator overheat problem, and the first one thousand feet of Danang's runway was closed for repairs; the combination of the two factors dictated an out-of-the-ordinary approach. At 11:25 the Warning Star was on short final when another aircraft taxied onto the active runway, forcing the EC-121 to attempt an aborted landing. The pilot banked while flying over a concrete revetment and caught the tip of the left wing on a shelter. The EC-121 immediately cartwheeled, striking a revetment containing an RF-4C, causing an explosion. The explosion's force broke the EC-121 into three sections. One of these flying sections hit a tar truck, knocking it into two power poles. The poles were severed and live power lines were strewn over the area.

Although ground personnel made heroic efforts to rescue the 31 men aboard the EC-121 - braving gasoline and jet fuel fires and the risk of electrocution - 23 men were either dead or fatally injured:

  • LCDR Harvey C. K. Aiau, Baltimore, MD, pilot
  • LCDR Harry C. Martin, Battle Creek, MI
  • LT James M. Masters Jr., Daytona Beach, FL, navigator
  • LT George L. Morningstar, Burlington, NC, copilot
  • LT Robin A. Pearce, North Hollywood, CA, copilot
  • LTJG Charles E. Pressler, Bay Village, OH, navigator
  • LTJG Jean P. Souzon, Willow Grove, PA, navigator
  • ADRC William J. Risse, Moline, IL
  • AT1 Larry O. Marchbank, Portsmouth, VA
  • ATR1 Arthur D. Simmons, Marshall, TX
  • ATR1 Donald W. Wilson, Mason City, IA
  • AE2 Floyd E. Andrus III, Greenfield Center, NY
  • ADR2 Stuart J. Scruggs Jr., Atlanta, GA
  • AMS2 William P. Bletsch, Boyd, TX
  • ATN2 John M. Birch, La Habra, CA
  • ATN2 Guy T. Denton, Bristol, VA
  • ATN2 John S. Schaefer, Seabrook, TX
  • ATN2 Barry M. Searby, Santa Rosa, CA
  • ATR2 Joseph S. Saukaitis, Kulpmont, PA
  • ADR3 Gregory J. Asbeck, Grove City, OH
  • ATN3 Thurle E. Case Jr., Vacaville, CA
  • ATN3 Ben A. Hughes Jr., Dallas, TX
  • ATN3 Ralph S. Purdum, Minneapolis, MN

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009