LT – 03 – United States Navy – 1310
He flew 325 combat missions
Married with one daughter
31 Years Old
March 28, 1941 – MIA, January 6, 1973
Body Was Not Recovered
Chuck Arens remembers John...
I only discovered this site because of the Newton paper which carried your
fine article! While browsing through the names of the brave men who gave
their everything in the cause of our nation, I was taken by the bio/article of
John Lindahl from Lindsborg!
I graduated from Hoisington the same year John graduated from Lindsborg. I went
into the Navy right after high school and served on the USS Enterprise in 1962-63, the
years John was in the academy. I witnessed events on the Enterprise that were quiet
similar to the one that cost John his life. As I read his profile, I realized what a fine
young man he must have been!
I sing in the Lindsborg Messiah at Easter, and when our rehearsals begin on February 8,
I will inquire from those in the community if they have seen the web site and will
let the locals know that this site does exist.
This site is a beautiful tribute to these fine young Americans who have been
gone from us for so very long. As a Grand Officer for the Grand Commander
of Knights Templar of Kansas, (Masons), I would like to let you know that every
year in Junction City, on Memorial Day, we do a personal tribute at the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial in honor of all those in Kansas who served and perished
during the Vietnam War.
Ray Richards remembers John...
I was an AQ working the flight deck the day we lost John Lindahl. The site of
him struggling to stay afloat as we passed by is burned in my memory. Salt Water
activated Harness releases were invented too late to save John. We also lost
Gary Shank and Smokey Tolbert and later Eugene Goodrow.
They were all American Heroes and I'm so proud to have known them.
Doug Faber remembers John...
LTjg Gary Shank was a squadron mate of mine and John Lindahl in VA-56
onboard USS Midway. He flew A-7B Corsair II aircraft and was shot down
southwest of Haiphong in 1972. Photos of his helmet and parts of his aircraft
appeared in print later that year, but he was never recovered or heard from. He
is from Kansas.
A brief description of the events surrounding John's death
When he launched from the USS Midway in his A7B, the launch seemed normal,
yet the plane veered and dove into the ocean shortly after takeoff. The crash was
observed from the ship, and within 45 seconds, helicopters and divers were on the
scene, but it was too late. Lindahl went down with his aircraft.
Hugo and Dorothy Lindahl light a candle for their son during the
POW/MIA Ceremony in Salina, KS May 2002. They are being
escorted by Sammy L. Davis, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
John's parents, Hugo and Dorothy, remember their son...
Born: March 28, 1941
Died: January 6, 1973
Graduated from: Lindsborg Grade School – May, 1955. Lindsborg Rural High School – May 21,
1959. Attended Bethany College – 1959-1961. Graduated from Naval Academy Annapolis,
Maryland – June, 1965. Naval Flight Training at Pensacola, Florida; Meridian, Mississippi;
and Beeville, Texas. Also attended officer's post-graduate study at Monterey, California.
Married: August 9, 1967 to Virginia Lee Wright at the Naval Air Station Chapel in Lemoore,
Children: Daughter, Christine Marie, born October 15, 1971.
Grade School Interests: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts. He loved sports and participated in baseball,
tennis, and swimming.
High School interests: tennis, basketball, golf, football and was the team's quarterback, and
he loved to travel. Elected to the National Honor Society his Senior Year.
College Interests: While at Bethany he played on the tennis team (2 years)
Naval Academy, (Alumni Link) Annapolis, Maryland. John received his appointment to the
U.S Naval Academy the summer of 1965. He was recommended by Senator Frank Carlson.
His first impressions and experiences of the Naval Academy was the size of
Bancroft Hall which
housed 3800 mid-shipmen (2 to a room). It also had a store, 3 barbershops, dental and doctor's
offices, tailor shops, laundry, library and a mess hall.
His daily routine was:
Reville at 6:15 A.M.
Inspection before every meal.
Classes at 8:00 A.M.
Study hours: 7:30 – 11:00 P.M.
Athletics: 3:00 – 6:00 P.M.
21 sports to choose from: First year men are required to participate in 2 sports. John chose
tennis and squash. His tennis ability landed him a spot in the varsity squad. It also gave him an
opportunity to travel as the team played colleges and universities all along the East Coast from
Florida to Massachusetts. He loved to travel and to play tennis. He was so pleased to be one
of the "N" award winners.
Besides getting 2 or 3 weeks vacation at home each summer, he spent his first summer on
an 8-week cruise along the East Coast. The second summer he spent 6 weeks at Naval Air
Stations in Pensacola and Jacksonville, Florida studying naval aviation. The third summer he
studied nuclear power at New London, Conn., and had a 2-week cruise to Nova Scotia on a
nuclear powered submarine. The last summer he and several midshipmen spent 3 weeks in Europe.
Extra curricular high lights:
Attending Army-Navy games. Roger Staubach, John's classmate, was the quarterback for
the Navy team. The year they played Texas in the Cotton Bowl game, we (John's folks) and
several other friends attended this game. John also enjoyed the visits from Bob Hope.
Going off to war:
John earned his Navy Wings in February 1967. He had three tours to Vietnam – two with
the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk and one with the
U.S.S. Midway. Having spent hours in VA144, VA125
and the Naval Postgraduate school in Monterey, he joined Attack Squadron Fifty-six on the
in November 1971.
Due to the situation growing worse in Vietnam, the ship Midway left early giving the
Navy men only a weekend to get ready. John was thankful he could spend that weekend at
home and not leave from sea. He and his wife, Virginia, had a lot of business to take care of and
were thankful that Virginia's folks were there to take care of their baby, Christine. For us saying
good-bye over the phone was not easy but he told us the Midway had an outstanding squadron
and he was sure the cruise would go O.K. and that the ship would keep us informed with
family grams. He said to keep the mail coming and pray for his safety.
John flew alone in an A7 Corsair, an attack bomber. He made the 5000 landings in Vietnam
while serving on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. During his deployments, John flew a total of 325
combat missions against the enemy in North Vietnam, Laos and South Vietnam.
It was January 6, 1973 when his plane crashed following the launch from the aircraft
carrier U.S.S. Midway in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. His body was
never recovered. John received many medals and certificates, which we treasure and will
keep for his daughter. We received hundreds of sympathy cards and letters and it was
comforting to hear from his friends as well as from his commanding officers who thought so well
of him. John always did his best whether at work or play and at an early age he decided on his
own that he wanted to serve God and Country and that is when he decided to apply to the Naval
Academy. He never criticized the decisions that government made regarding Vietnam but did do
his best to fulfill his duties even though it may cost his life. At the 10th anniversary of the U.S.
leaving Saigon, Senator Bob Dole presented medals to us as well as to 35 other Kansas
relatives, who had lost their sons or were listed as MIA at the 10th anniversary of the U.S.
Three Memorial services were held – one on the U.S.S. Midway on January 12, 1973;
One in Lemoore, California at the Naval Air Station on January 11, 1973; And one at his
home church, Bethany Lutheran, January 28, 1973 in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Doug Ade remembers John…
My family moved to Lindsborg, Kansas in 1953, and at that time I didn't realize how
blessed my life would be…not only was the small town with Swedish culture a blessing, but
the total environment was also an enrichment to our lives. However, the greatest gift of all
was the lifelong friends we acquired. Among these friends was one very special person,
I was a 7th grader at the time, and, as most young people, I was having a tough time with
the family move, pulling up roots, and leaving old friends. My main interest was athletics, so
I really appreciated the blond-haired Swedish athlete when he took me as his friend.
John had so many talents, not only in football, basketball, and tennis, but he was always
an honor student, and excellent leader, and a good example for those of us around him.
John was a very good high school quarterback, and, as one of his main targets at tight
end, I had great confidence in his passing ability. I'll never forget how worried I was about
my friend one night in Minneapolis, Kansas, when John took a hard hit from a large
opposing lineman and was knocked out. When he regained consciousness, his memory was
not good, and he didn't know anyone. Things got better soon, but his toughness and
competitive spirit were always there for us to see and follow.
In the 50's, very few athletes specialized in one sport, so when football season ended, we
all went directly into basketball. There's no telling how many hours we spent together in
the gym. When we weren't in an organized practice, we were finding a way to sneak into
the college gym, or as a last resort, shoot baskets in the Lindahl's backyard.
One very memorable game was when we played our archrival Lyons High School at their
gym. The game was close all the way, but in the last few seconds I fouled which allowed the
opponents two free throws to tie the game. This is where the heroics began, because I had
fouled out, and the first overtime ended in a tie, so the second overtime became a sudden
death situation – the first team to score wins. Luckily, John was fouled and hit a free throw
to win the game-much to my relief!
Tennis has always been a sport of great emphasis in Lindsborg, so youth of all ages spend
many hours on the tennis courts in hopes of making the tennis teams. I can remember many
hours during the spring months and especially late nights of practice feeding quarters into the
timer box that kept the lights on at the courts.
John was an excellent singles player, but always chose to play doubles with me when the
State Tournament rolled around. As I recall, we finished 2nd in the State our junior year, and
were eliminated after reaching the final four in our second year. This tournament always
challenged us because the Junior-Senior Prom was the night before the State finals. How
that affected our play I'm not sure, but we had no difficulty sleeping the next night.
So much for athletics…John was also a pretty good trumpet player. Our band director
asked us to play a duet (me on the piano) at our eighth grade graduation. We were not crazy
about the idea, but he had heard us at another event, so he wanted us to do another number.
We would never let anyone hear our practice, and we even sent our mothers outside so
they couldn't hear. Now comes the good part. As busy junior high boys, we were having
trouble finding time to learn a new number. So we just changed the name of our old song
"The Evening Song," to "The Morning Song." How creative! No one noticed, except our
mothers who had evidently listened to us practice anyway. They were so embarrassed!
There are so many great memories and time does not allow telling them all, but just the
camaraderie with John was a real blessing. What a wonderful way to grow up with a special
friend with qualities like John Lindahl.
Mike Cobb remembers John…
John was a class act. He was a professional Officer as well as pilot. I was in his fleet
transition class to the A7. John, myself, and the other three members of our class along
with our wives became very close friends.
John was lost late in our combat cruise, at a time when most of us thought we were
about to go home safely. I remember John's memorable service on the ship when his
CO called him a Gentleman's Gentleman. I could think of no better expression of John
and his character. He is missed.
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