Thomas Jack Steimer

Lieutenant (junior grade)
United States Navy
12 May 1942 - 08 May 1967
Piedmont, California
Panel 19E Line 067

Naval Flight Officer

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas Jack Steimer

26 May 2008

Tom's letter home from the aircraft carrier USS KITTY HAWK:

9 April 1967

Hi Mom and Dad,

How is everything these days? I'm on my way back to sea. It's getting pretty short now. I don't imagine the weather is very good in the Gulf because of Typhoon Violet. No fly - no get shot at. Whew!

I just received really good news. When I come home I will receive orders to VF-41 or VF-84. Both squadrons are on the East Coast and are transitioning to the new F-4J. Also it means a Med cruise. Yippee!!

Say Hi to Bob and Lynn for me and also tell Bob that for the last two Cubi in-ports, I've seen Pete. He's flying F-8s out of Okinawa. He still looks exactly the same and I recognized him right off. He didn't recognize me because I've gained weight and I also have another mustache. No, I didn't get any pictures of it again.

Well, I can't think of anything else that's new, so bye.

Love, Tom

When I saw Tom in the Philippines in 1967 we laughed about our childhood experiences with his brother Bob in our Piedmont, California Boy Scout troop. Tom, his brother, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had all been Eagle Scouts in Piedmont. I think it rained on every hike. All the Steimers were very nice and I remember being invited to dinner.

In 1967 Tom had a girlfriend, and one of the young wives from his Navy fighter squadron said they made a nice couple. Soon after, Tom died on May 8, 1967 in his F-4 Phantom during a night catapult launch from Yankee Station off North Vietnam.

When Tom was killed, his brother suppressed his grief to care for his parents. Tom's Navy fighter squadron, VF-114, lost 20 F-4 Phantoms during the Vietnam War.

With respect, Pete Michael

A Note from The Virtual Wall

At 1729 (5:29 PM) 08 May 1967 F-4B BuNo 152997 was launched from KITTY HAWK. The aircraft suffered an engine failure as it went off the catapult and both crewmen ejected. Both had good chutes and both landed in the water off the carrier's port side. As the carrier steamed past the two men the pilot, LTJG L. M. Tuft, was seen in good shape, but LTJG Steimer was lying face-down in the water. By the time the plane guard helo arrived from its position on KITTY HAWK's starboard side Steimer had disappeared beneath the surface. Tuft was picked up without further difficulty.

Mr. Michael addresses VF-114's aircraft losses. The squadron lost 17 men in nine incidents - but only 4 returned when the POWs came home in 1973. The incidents were as follow:

  • 12/02/1965, F-4B 152220 54 KM N-NW of Dong Hoi, NVN; 2 MIA (Austin/Logan)

  • 01/19/1967, F-4B 153029 eng failure on launch; 2 dead/BNR (Ashby/Ehrlich)

  • 05/08/1967, F-4B 152997 eng failure on launch; 1 dead/BNR (Steimer)

  • 05/14/1967, F-4B 153001 6 KM E-SE of Thanh Hoa, NVN; 2 POW (Rollins/Southwick)

  • 05/19/1967, F-4B 153004 vicinity Xan La, 12 miles SW of Hanoi; 2 POW (Anderson/Plumb)

  • 12/27/1967, F-4B 153005 vicinity Cape Falaise, 25 miles north of Vinh; 2 MIA (Innes/Lee)

  • 01/18/1968, F-4B 153055 water impact 75 miles offshore while investigating contact; 2 dead/BNR (Boles/Roehrich)

  • 04/14/1972, F-4J 157252 just below DMZ 17 miles west of Quang Tri City; 2 MIA (Greenleaf/McKinney)

  • 08/17/1972, F-4J 157262 Hoang Que, 18 km north of Haiphong, NVN; 2 MIA (Pender/Pitzen)
In addition to the four POWS, the remains of five MIAs have come home: Innes, Lee, McKinney, Pender, and Pitzen.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 May 2008
Last updated 08/10/2009