From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Peter Rodrick '64

Date of birth: January 6, 1943

Date of death: November 28, 1979

Age: 36

Lucky Bag

From the 1964 Lucky Bag:



28 Nov 1979: Kitty Hawk arrived in the vicinity of Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. NL 626, an EA-6B (BuNo 158541), CDR Peter T. Rodrick, squadron CO, LCDR William J. Coffey, LT James B. Brown, Jr., and LT(JG) John R. Chorey, VAQ-135, launched for a scheduled electronic support measures (ESM) mission, at 1324, at 07º33’S, 073º19’E. Kitty Hawk was under EMCON A conditions, which prohibited electronic emissions from either the ship or the Prowler. Within two minutes the Prowler passed close abeam of guided missile cruiser Jouett (CG-29), about eight nautical miles ahead of the carrier. The EA-6B suddenly executed a “near vertical climbing turn,” partial cloud cover obscuring further observation of the aircraft, though it is surmised that the crew was practicing a “low level ingress tactic.” Though not verified, it is believed the Prowler impacted the water at approximately 13 miles off the port beam of Kitty Hawk, 63 nautical miles from Diego Garcia, at 1505. Despite determined efforts by two SH-3Hs from the carrier and a Lockheed P-3 Orion from Diego Garcia, none of the men were recovered.

From the April 1980 issue of Shipmate:

"Cdr. Peter Thomas Rodrick USN was killed in an aircraft accident while flying an EA-6B Prowler aircraft on a training mission off KITTY HAWK in the Indian Ocean on 28 November 1979. A military memorial service was held on 4 December at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Chapel.

Appointed to the Naval Academy from the State of Massachusetts, he was graduated with the Class of 1964 and ordered to flight training in Pensacola, where he was designated naval aviator in 1965. After a short tour with VC-2 at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, he received orders to Meridian, Mississippi, for jet transition and flight instructor duty for two years. Later assignments included postgraduate school at Monterey where he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering, then duty with VAQ-135 and VAQ-130 aboard FORRESTAL and ORISKANY. In July 1974 he was attached to Whidbey Island for training in the EA-6B aircraft and deployed with VAQ-130 aboard NIMTTZ. Helater had an assignmentat the Armed Forces Staff College, in Norfolk, Virginia, then in July 1979 assumed command of VAQ-135 in KITTY HAWK.

He is survived by his widow, Barbara, of Oak Harbor, Washington; two daughters and a son; his parents, three sisters and two brothers."

Peter has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.


Peter's son, Stephen, wrote a book about his father. From Amazon:
The Magical Stranger is a moving story of love and sacrifice, fathers and sons, heroism and duty, soldiers and the families they leave behind.

On November 28, 1979, squadron commander and Navy pilot Peter Rodrick died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean, leaving behind a devastated wife, two daughters, and a 13-year-old son.

In this powerful, beautifully written book, journalist Stephen Rodrick explores the life and death of the man who indelibly shaped his life, even as he remained a mystery. Through adolescence and into adulthood, Stephen Rodrick struggled to fully grasp the reality of his father’s death and its permanence.

To better understand his father, Rodrick turned to members of his father’s former squadron, the "World-Famous Black Ravens." As he learns about his father, he uncovers the layers of these sailors’ lives: their loves, friendships, dreams, disappointments—and the consequences of their choices on those they leave behind. The journey doesn’t end until November 28, 2013, when Rodrick’s first son is born 34 years to the day after his father’s mishap.

A penetrating, thoughtful blend of memoir and reportage, The Magical Stranger is a moving reflection on the meaning of military service and the power of a father’s legacy.

Related Articles

James Brown, Jr. '73 was also lost in this crash.

Class of 1964

Peter is one of 25 members of the Class of 1964 in Memorial Hall.