Paul Laurance Worrell

Lieutenant Commander
United States Navy
18 April 1942 - 26 April 1978
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 13E Line 007

A-4 Skyhawk

Naval Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Paul Laurance Worrell

14 Feb 2004

The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987.

"I think one of three things is going to happen," said Worrell's mother, Elaine, after her young son's Navy plane was shot down on a dangerous night flight over North Vietnam on December 2, 1966. "Paul will either come home. Or he will not come home. Or we'll never know. I pray it's not the last." The Worrells clung to the hope their son was somehow alive for years until his remains eventually were found. Elaine Worrell became a state coordinator for a national POW/MIA group, and personally sold more than 65,000 POW/MIA arm bracelets. She and her husband traveled to Geneva and Paris in the early 1970s to plead for humane treatment and release of prisoners of war. Her son, a 1962 graduate of Temple University, enlisted in 1964. The lieutenant commander had majored in electronics and wanted to be a flier. He was assigned to Attack Squadron 172 on the aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt off Vietnam and had completed 10 air strikes over enemy territory before his last mission. The 24-year-old Worrell was survived by his parents. A "freedom tree" was planted in his memory next to the Patrick E. Ward Memorial in a small park at 24th and Aspen streets in Fairmount. A nearby plaque commemorates Worrell.

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

31 Aug 2005

I don't know what made me think of Paul, but here it is 32 years later and I decided to look him up on the internet. I went to Little Flower High School from 1970 to 1974. In 1973 I started wearing a POW/MIA bracelet bearing Paul Worrell's name, I wore it for a few years until I misplaced it. I was not aware that Paul had been declared dead in 1978. We never knew each other but as you can see after 32 years, a thought came to me and I just needed to know.

May God bless and keep you always at his side.

Cathy Schneider

27 Oct 2005

I wore Paul's bracelet until 1978. I reluctantly quit wearing it after the war was over and his status was unchanged. While recently searching the internet for information on the Memorial Wall for a project at work, I decided to look and see what information might be available now on Paul. I did not know that his status had been changed (in 1985). That information literally brought me to tears! I have carried his memory with me for many, many years and often wondered if his family ever received closure. I am relieved that they did. I will continue to remember him and hold his family in my prayers.

Harrisburg, Pa

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 02 Dec 1966 two A-4C aircraft from Attack Squadron 172 embarked in USS ROOSEVELT disappeared during a night armed reconnaissance mission near Phuc Nhac, about 50 miles south of Haiphong. The two aircraft were flown by
  • A-4C 145143, CDR Bruce A. Nystrom, Marion, OH, and
  • A-4C 145116, ENS Paul L. Worrell, Philadelphia, PA.
CDR Nystrom, Commanding Officer of VA-172, was the section lead. Other aircraft in the area heard ENS Worrell advise his lead that he had a surface-to-air warning indication. CDR Nystrom responded with instructions to begin evasive maneuvers and then announced that he held SAM launch indications. A pilot some distance away saw what appeared to be two SAM launches followed shortly thereafter by two mid-air explosions which he interpreted as SAM strikes. Subsequent search and rescue efforts were fruitless; no further contact was made with either CDR Nystrom or ENS Worrell, perhaps indicating that neither man was able to leave his aircraft. Both were classed as Missing in Action and were promoted while in that status. The Secretary of the Navy eventually approved Presumptive Findings of death for the two men, Captain Nystrom on 08 Aug 1978 and LCDR Worrell on 26 April 1978.

LCDR Worrell's remains were repatriated on 14 Aug 1985 with positive identification announced on 07 Oct 1985.

Captain Nystrom entered the service in 1948 and flew the F4U Corsair during the Korean War. He joined VA-172 as Executive Officer in December 1964 and took command of the squadron on 23 December 1965. His remains have not been repatriated.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009