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Fighter Squadron 102
Naval Flight Officer
Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

Database page for Bernard F Rupinski, LT, USNR

Fighter Squadron 102, the Diamondbacks, deployed aboard USS AMERICA (CV-66) as a part of Carrier Air Wing SIX. The ship departed Norfolk, Virginia, in the spring of 1968 for its first Viet Nam cruise.

AMERICA began combat operations immediately upon her arrival on Yankee Station in mid-June. The Air Wing's first combat loss was a VF-102 F-4J flown by the squadron's Commanding Officer, CDR Walter E Wilber, and then-LT(jg) Bernie Rupinski on 16 June.

The aircraft was hit by ground fire in the vicinity of Nge An, about 25 miles northwest of the city of Vinh, North Vietnam. CDR Wilber successfully ejected, was captured, and eventually repatriated. Bernie Rupinski was not reported by the North Vietnamese as either captured or killed; instead, he simply disappeared.

After repatriation CDR Wilber expressed the belief that Bernie did not eject and was killed when the aircraft crashed. The only certainties are that he left the ship on what I recall to be his first over-land combat mission, that he has not yet returned, and that he is remembered by his shipmates.

Ken Davis
A-6 Aircrewman, Attack Squadron 85

A memorial from
Ken Davis
CDR, USN (Ret)

16 June 2000

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Music - the Navy Hymn
With all respect - K. J. Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)