JOHN W. CONSOLVO, JR., CAPT, USMC
John Consolvo, Jr. '66
Date of birth: January 8, 1944
Date of death: May 7, 1972
From the 1966 Lucky Bag:
Captain Consolvo graduated from Auburn High School, Auburn, Alabama, in 1961. He graduated from Sullivan's Prep School in Washington, DC in 1962, ranking number one inin his class.
Entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962. graduated in 1966 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Basic training, Quantico Virginia. Reported to Pensacola Florida for flight training, Designated Naval Aviator, July, 1968. Further training, Meridian, Mississippi and Beeville, Texas, First duty stations El Toro, Marine Corps Air Stations California. Served six months in Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 542 in DaNang, Vietnam from July 1969 to Jan. 1970, flying over 150 combat missions. From Jan. 1970 to July 1970, served as Air Liaison Officer with Division of Air Offices Hdqrs. First Marine Division, Vietnam.
Joined Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212, Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, Honolulu, August 1970. The squadron was deployed to DaNang Vietnam in April 1972.
AWARDS: Distinguished Flying Cross Bronze Star with Combat V, Air Medal (First through nineteen Strike/Flight Awards, Air Medal (Bronze Star for first award), Air Medal (Gold Star in lieu of second award) a Navy Commendation Medal. Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
From Task Force Omega:
On 7 May 1972, Capt. John W. “Jack” Consolvo, Jr., pilot; and COW3 James J. “Jim” Castonguay, Radar Intercept Officer; comprised the crew of the lead F4J aircraft (serial #155576), call sign “Bootleg 5 - 01” in a flight of 2 that was conducting an afternoon strike mission. In addition to their 20mm centerline cannons, both strike aircraft were armed with 12 MK-82 500-pound bombs. Other aircraft participating in this day’s mission included King 26, the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC); and Seafox 01, the Forward Air Controller (FAC) that was referred to as a “fast FAC” because it was also an F4.
Targets included surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) sites as well as enemy convoys and other lucrative targets of opportunity found in their sector. The target area was described as the DMZ, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, which bordered the DMZ to the south; and Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam, which bordered it to the north.
Bootleg 5 flight departed DaNang Airbase shortly after 1400 hours and rendezvoused with Seafox 01 over the South China Sea just east of Quang Tri City, South Vietnam. After receiving current weather and mission data from King 26, the flight proceeded inland to the target area located 9 to 10 miles north of the DMZ in a forested high threat area that was laced with primary and secondary roads and trails running in different directions that were protected by both AAA and SAM sites. Further, it was infested with large concentrations of NVA troops who used this sector to stage and then transport men and material into the active war zone.
At approximately 1415 hours, Seafox 01 located, identified and marked with smoke a convoy of trucks transporting SA-7 missiles on flatbed trailers traveling along Highway 101, just west of the major road junction with Highways 1035 and 1011. It was also located approximately 4 miles north of the DMZ, 11 miles due west of Vinh Linh, North Vietnam and 114 miles northwest of DaNang, South Vietnam.
The FAC directed Capt. Consolvo to make his approach to the target from east to west because of the relatively safe bailout area immediately to the west. On his first pass on the target, Jack Consolvo did not drop any ordnance because he felt he was not properly aligned with it. His wingman followed in trail and dropped 6 MK-82 bombs.
Capt. Consolvo came around for his second pass and while he was pulling off target; his wingman realized Lead had been hit by the intense and accurate ground fire. Jack Consolvo acknowledged that fact and reported he had a fire warning light on the left engine. Bootleg 5 – 02 aborted its second attack run to follow Lead out of the target area. At the same time, they notified King 26 and Seafox 01 of the situation as well as to alert search and rescue (SAR) stand by in case their services were needed.
Bootleg 5 – 02 kept Lead in sight both visually and on radar as the flight turned due south and reached an altitude of 15,000 feet. The FAC pulled up in trail behind Capt. Consolvo and told him to shut down his left engine because it was on fire. Lead acknowledged Seafox 01. As he shut the engine down, the FAC told them to eject because they were still on fire. At the same time Capt. Consolvo yelled, “Get out! Get out!” as his controls froze and he lost control of the aircraft.
According to CWO3 Castonguay’s debriefing statement, “I attempted to reach the command ejection handle, but was unable to do so. I was able to pull the face curtain to initiate ejection at approximately 13,000 feet.” He went on to say that he “lost visual contact with the aircraft for quite a while then observed the aircraft impact (the ground), but did not see another chute.” When asked if he thought his pilot could have ejected, he replied, “… (He) felt certain that Capt. Consolvo ejected from the aircraft".
Bootleg 05 – 02 also saw the Phantom impact the ground, but did not see either crewmen eject from the crippled jet. He established radio contact with the ABCCC advising them of the situation and reporting the coordinates were Lead crashed into the jungle on the south side of Nui Ba Tum mountain less than a mile south of Highway QL9, 15 miles south of the DMZ, 20 miles west of Quang Tri City and 100 miles northwest of DaNang.
King 26 immediately initiated the SAR operation and directed Capt. Consolvo’s wingman to orbit in a holding pattern out to sea in case his assistance was required. Ten minutes later King 26 told Bootleg 05 -02 to return to base as the rescue mission was underway and their services were not needed.
Voice contact was established with CWO3 Castonguay who reported he was alright. As the Jolly Green rescue helicopters orbited at a distance, the A1E Skyraiders made repeated attack passes on previously established enemy positions in and around the area of loss. Due to the intense enemy presence, SAR was unable to rescue the RIO on the afternoon of the shootdown. At first light the next morning the rescue mission resumed and by mid afternoon they were successful in recovering Jim Castonguay. At the same time, efforts were made to locate Capt. Consolvo, but all attempts proved unsuccessful. At the time the formal search operation was terminated, Jack Consolvo was declared Missing in Action.
From Wall of Faces:
You are in my thoughts and prayers, Jack, and will be always with the rest of our classmates who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I hope all those who wore your bracelet will at some point read this. You were a great friend and Marine and I'm so sorry you left us so early, my friend. TOM PORTER '66, THOMAS.PORTER@US.IBM.COM, 11/13/04
John was survived by his wife, Carol, children, Wayne & Jennifer, and his parents. (Information from June 1975 issue of Shipmate.)
From Viet Vet:
Message is: My name is Jennifer, I am the daughter of Captian John W. Consolvo Jr. I think I am ready to meet anyone who knew my father. I was only 2 1//2 years old when his plane was shot down. If you knew my father please contact me. I don't really have any memories of him, and my family continues to debate about whether or not he is still alive. I want to try to end my pain, know for sure whether or not he is dead. Jennifer Consolvo, firstname.lastname@example.org
A F-4J Phantom II at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay has John's name.
There is a Facebook page set up in John's memory.
Arthur Staecker '66 was also in 31st Company.