ROGER M. NETHERLAND, CAPT, USN
From the 1948-A Lucky Bag:
Roger Morton Netherland
The Nittany Lion vented forth a roar of pain as if something vital was being torn from him. In a sense it was, but Penn State's loss proved to be Navy's gain in the form of Dutch Netherland. From that time Dutch has never ceased to keep the boys in good spirits with his sarcastic wit. We admire him for his tenacity in sport and school, for his taste in the finer things of life . . . notably women, for his famous utterances, and mostly for his ability to smile when the chips are down. His future shipmates will be enlivened by his wit and will find in him a true friend.
Roger was on the 2nd Regimental Staff (2nd set). He graduated with the class of 1948-A, the last of the wartime-accelerated classes, in June 1947. (The bottom half of the class by academic standing, designated 1948-B, completed an extra year and graduated in June 1948.)
From Find A Grave:
He was classified as Missing In Action while flying a mission in the Haiphong area of North Vietnam when his A4C was shot down. In 1973, he was not amongst the American Prisoners of War released. On September 11, 1989, his remains were repatriated by the Government of Vietnam and identified the following June for burial.
On 10 May (1967) VA-94 lost A-4C BuNo 149509 and CVW-5 lost its leader, Cdr Roger M Netherland. the CAG had launched from Hancock with a section of flak suppressors. Approaching the airfield at Kien, near Haiphong, Cdr Netherland evaded two SAMSs but not the third, which exploded under his aircraft. Although the stricken A-4 turned back towards the water, it was streaming fire and fuel. CAG might have been hurt, and therefore unable to prevent his A-4 from rolling inverted and hitting the water.
From Wall of Faces:
My name is Christy B Netherland, nephew of Roger M. (Dutch) Netherland, Captain USN. This remembrance is for a man who was, is, my hero. He and I were the only two members of our family that served in the Navy. I'm sure there are guys out there who knew the "CAG" better than I, but I still miss him very much, as do all the Netherland's. Rest in peace Dutch. Still remembered, "KIT". CHRISTY B NETHERLAND, NETHER@BELLATLANTIC.NET, 9/12/99
Roger, and his widow Gloria, who was recently inurned with him at Arlington National Cemetery, are always in our hearts.
RICH SLANEY, R.SLANEY@COMCAST.NET, 5/12/05
My Uncle sent me the first letter I ever received, after hearing from my Mother that I was considering entering the Army on active duty. Uncle Roger was on his way to the "Gulf of Tonkin Club" and posted the letter ‘at sea’
On 5 May 1967, he was downed over North Vietnam. I entered the Army on active duty and followed him there the following year. I served and waited for 20 years. He was the inspiration for my career and my life. He was identified in 2000, and now rests in Arlington… Finally home. WILLIAM NETHERLAND, DIGEM2@VERIZON.NET, 12/10/10
The Netherlands were my parents best friends at Lemoore. They had no children and my folks had the three of us. We would go camping up at Shaver Lake. When my Dad was deployed I would stop by their house on the way home from school. When my Dad died in March of 67 it was Gloria, my Moms best friend who accompanied the Base Commander to inform us. I always loved them and have often wonder what happened to them. I'm glad to see Uncle Dutch hasn't been forgotten. JOHN SCOTT SHAW, CHEROKEESAFE@YAHOO.COM, 11/17/15
Roger was my grandfathers little brother, and also my mothers hero, as they were only 4 years apart in age. She thought her uncle Roger could walk on water! I only met Roger once when I was about 8 or 9. My grandfather was very proud of Roger, and told me many stories about him. One story that sticks in my head is the time when Roger was just about to complete a tour, he was going to be able to go home and not do any more tours. But, he signed up for another tour anyway. My grandfather asked him why he had signed up again, and he said "Wattsie, (my grandfathers nickname as a kid) I've lost too many good men over there, it just wouldn't be right to not go back." This really has hit home lately with all the attention the movie American Sniper is getting. Some people question why Chris Kyle went back to do 4 tours unless he liked the killing. Well, I think he had the same mind set that Roger had, he wanted to go back for the men he could save and help out. It's a love of country/military thing. According to my grandfather, Roger wanted to be in the military from the day he was born. STUART CHALLONER, STUC61@SBCGLOBAL.NET, 1/27/15
My brother, Stuart, who left a remembrance on 1/27/15, told me about this site. I remembered that I had some photos of Roger that were in the family, and wanted to share them. My grandmother, Catherine Netherland (wife of John Netherland, Roger's older brother), wrote the following inscription on the back of this picture: "May 10th, 1967 - Air Force top pilot Chappie James had just landed on Hancock - as a reciprocal visit to the Navy - this was taken before Rog's final flight." ELIZABETH CHALLONER, EWCHALLONER@YAHOO.COM, 12/30/15
My Shared Family Story
My mother’s great uncle, Rodger Morton Netherland, was a pilot during the Viet Nam War. He was a commander in the Navy. He was in his 50’s and was a great leader. His call sign was Dutch. During the war, when it was almost over, he was still commanding pilots flying dangerous missions. On one particularly sketchy mission, he could tell that his men were understandably nervous. He felt they were all so young and inexperienced compared to him that he decided to fly with them in the hopes that they would be more at ease. This would ultimately increase the odds of them all being successful. Unfortunately, he was shot down and became listed as MIA and thought to be a POW. He was listed as such until the early 90’s when part of his plane was found. Then he became classified as KIA. The reason this story is important in our family, is because he is a success story. He made the ultimate sacrifice not just for his country, but for lives of his men that he fought for and did save. Heroes don’t always come home to a welcoming parade or homecoming. Sometimes true heroes don’t really even come home at all. Everyone not just family can learn from someone this selfless.
William Cade Booher 2016
Great Great Nephew 2000-2016
Now with Dutch in Heaven CARIE GIBBS BOOHER, GREAT NEICE, 12/11/16
I just read the post from his great niece Carie. I can fill in with a story my Mother told me at the time. She was the wife of Cmdr J D Shaw and still had contacts in the Squadrons at NAS Lemoore.
When CDR Netherland was shot down he was seen ejecting from his plane. At that time the NVA used English speaking radio operators to call in support for downed US pilots hoping to shoot them down also. That's what they did. When he heard the bogus call for help, by this time on the ground, he radio'd "That wasn't me, get the hell outa here".
He was my Dads best friend at Lemoore and was shot down in the summer of '67.
This was a great man and good friend. He and Gloria were the best. Its good to see that they are well remembered among his family and friends. JOHN SHAW, CHEROKEESAFE@YAHOO.COM, 1/9/17
(Note: the account above is incorrect; Roger did not eject and did not survive the crash of his aircraft.)
From USNA 1948:
Roger Netherland - Final Chapter
The following is excerpted from an article written by John Dalles, Pastor of Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood Florida. Pastor Dalles is Gloria Netherland's nephew. The article was written for the benefit of Gloria's family following her death; however, it does describe in detail the final chapter in Roger's great career. (Posted 07/05/2005)
Gloria Dalles Netherland, a Pittsburgh native who became the wife of a celebrated Navy pilot, and a symbol of all whose family members were listed as Missing in Action during the Vietnam War, died on Tuesday, March 22, 2005, at her Mclean, Virginia home. Mrs. Netherland was one of four daughters of John Dalles and Lucy Valicenti, born on November 5, 1926 in Cheswick, PA. Mrs. Netherland was a graduate of Aspinwall High School. She was married to the late Roger Morton ("Dutch") Netherland, USN (born April 5, 1926 in Beaver, PA). Commander Netherland's plane was shot down by enemy fire on May 10, 1967 while flying a mission over North Vietnam. Listed as MIA until the Vietnam conflict ended, and thereafter as "presumed dead", his repatriated remains were among the first Vietnam casualties to be positively identified by improved DNA matching, in May of 2000. The Senate Select Committee on POWs and MIAs tells the next portion of Dutch Netherland's story:
"On May 10, 1967, Commander Netherland was launched in an A-4C, side number NF 404, from the U.S.S. Hancock as the leader of a flight of aircraft on a mission against Kien An Airfield near the port city of Hai Phong. Three surface-to-air missiles were launched at his flight, and the third missile exploded below his aircraft. His wingman reported observing him drop his external tanks and begin a left turn streaming fuel. His aircraft then did an inverted roll and crashed. There was no ejection seen. A search for sign of him was negative. He was initially declared missing in action. After the end of hostilities he was declared dead/body not recovered. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information that he was alive in the northern Vietnamese prison system. In December 1982, a Vietnamese refugee reported the downing of a U.S. aircraft and described the recovery and burial of remains from the crash site. The incident appeared to correlate to that of Commander Netherland. In September 1989, Vietnam returned the alleged remains of Commander Netherland together with his identity card and wallet. Forensic examination of the remains concluded they belonged to an adult male but a board decided that they could neither rule out nor recommend identification of the remains. A U.S. team in Vietnam during July 1990 conducted a survey of the crash site associated with Commander Netherland. The site location and information concerning the circumstances of the crash were consistent with the known facts surrounding Commander Netherland's loss. A return to the site in December 1991 resulted in witness interviews who provided their knowledge of the crash, including a description of human remains located in a position consistent with the results of a high angle high speed dive into the ground."
Six years after his plane was shot down, the North Vietnamese began returning some remains of our missing men to the US government. The Armed Forces Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii began the slow, painful process of identification, using DNA, trying to match remains to specific missing servicemen. At that time, the Navy department contacted Gloria and told her that one set of remains was very possibly Dutch's, but it was impossible to make a positive identification due to the time elapsed and the fragmented condition of the remains.
They urged her not to give up hope. And in 1998, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (DNA Registry) in Washington, contacted Gloria to tell her there had been a major DNA breakthrough and they felt Dutch's was a perfect test case. They asked her if by any chance she had something of his, completely unique to him, perhaps a razor that he had used or an envelope that he had sealed. Gloria remembered that Dutch's father had given her a box of old photographs, and among them was an envelope marked "Roger's First Haircut". Lo and behold, it held a thick lock of blond hair, in perfect condition. That lock of hair turned out to be the key to Dutch's positive identification, and the end of a long journey for Gloria Netherland. On Tuesday, June 20th at 3 PM after a simple, lovely, private service, Commander Netherland's ashes were placed in a niche at the columbarium of Arlington National Cemetery. At that time, Gloria said, "I am deeply indebted to and very much in awe of the wonderful special dedicated people who never gave up on their difficult, daunting task - that of insuring positive identification - with very little to work with. I salute them." Mrs. Netherland was the subject of Louis R. Stockstill's 1969 article depicting the plight of spouses of MIA's and POWs. Along with her lifelong friend Sybil Stockdale, wife of Vice Admiral and former US Vice Presidential candidate James Bond Stockdale, Gloria Netherland represented all who wondered, hoped, prayed and waited, not knowing if their MIA's would ever return. Had Dutch Netherland survived, he would have shared with Vice Admiral Stockdale the distinction of highest-ranking returning POW. Commander Netherland is listed among the honored graduates at the US Naval Academy Chapel at Annapolis, as well as on the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in Washington DC.
The Netherlands met in the late 1940's under romantic circumstances, on a commercial air flight that developed problems en route to Pittsburgh. Sensing that the passengers were beginning to panic, Gloria, who had a beautiful trained singing voice, stood up and encouraged all of the passengers to sing together. As she led them, they sang along, and a calm settled over the passenger cabin. Dutch Netherland, who was a passenger on the same flight, was impressed by her quick action in the midst of the crisis and thought to himself, "I have to meet this girl." The plane landed safely, Dutch introduced himself to Gloria, and they fell in love. Prior to Commander Netherland's disappearance over Vietnam, his career had taken them to tours of duty in Norfolk, Virginia, Pensacola, Florida, Rome, Italy and Tokyo, Japan. The Netherlands understood the risks of his naval career and while they did not have children, they doted on their nieces and nephews. They were great animal lovers, supporting the world famous San Diego Zoo by donating an exhibit of golden marmosets to the Zoo in the 1960's.
As a lieutenant, Dutch Netherland had served as naval attache to US Ambassador Claire Boothe Luce in Rome. The Netherlands were called upon to entertain world figures. Gloria sent long letters home to the family in Pittsburgh, who made an occasion out of reading them together. Gloria's younger brother Robert enjoys quoting one letter in which she relates, "We had a number of people in for dinner, including King Faruk and several of his wives..."
Mrs. Netherland leaves many friends in the world of diplomacy, the Navy and family that includes three sisters, one brother, four nephews, three nieces and 9 great nieces and nephews. A brother, John S. Dalles, preceded her in death.
Gloria was an intensely private person who felt, nonetheless, that by sharing her story with Louis Stockstill and his readers, new resolve might be found. In our current era, with a different war, but with families who struggle and pray and wait, perhaps knowing the rest of the story may give others a measure of strength in the midst of their own difficulties. Thank you for letting me share this with you.
Sincerely, John A. Dalles, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS There are several tender references to my aunt Gloria and uncle Roger in their friends Jim and Sybil Stockdale's book, IN LOVE AND WAR.
|Class of 1948|
|Roger is one of 46 members of the Class of 1948 in Memorial Hall.|
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