By JONI M. FISHER
On Saturday at SUN ‘n FUN, after the missing man formation tribute, in the middle of Warbird Country, three small flags will be added to the outside of a Grumman Mohawk OV1-D by the names of three MIAs whose remains have been recovered.
Those men are: Lieutenant Richard C. Clark, United States Naval Reserves, lost Oct. 24, 1967; Sergeant Rodney L. Griffin, United States Army, lost May 2, 1970; and Command Sergeant Edwin E. Morgan, Unites States Air Force, lost March 13, 1966.
This particular Mohawk, purchased eight years ago by pilot and airshow performer Joe Masessa, M.D. of Florida, was painted with the names of 1,636 Vietnam MIAs last month. Masessa has flown the plane to Oshkosh and various fly-ins and airshows around the country.
The Mohawk was used by Army Intelligence and the CIA to fly at 500 feet, illuminate an enemy’s position using a 2,500-volt flasher pod with a self-enclosed generator, and photograph the site. The flasher pod is under the co-pilot’s wing beside the exterior tank.
He then pointed to names marked with an airplane silhouette symbol and said those MIAs flew in Mohawks.
The belly of the plane held a panoramic camera, with another camera in the wing and one in the nose. At times it could be fitted with 50-caliber machine guns, missiles, rockets, and bombs for close air support.
This Mohawk has 2,800 total time and was rebuilt in 1982 at Grumman in Stewart, Florida, in preparation for use in the Middle East. It was not sent, so it has a low-time engine.
Team Chief Larry Easter of Daytona, Florida, pointed to the name Frank Bowman, painted over the pilot-side wing, and said, “That man came from my hometown.” “Every so often we’ll find a pilot standing by the plane trying to hold back tears,” he added. “He’ll tell us that he’s flown one of these.”