On the Thursday afternoon of September 19, 1968, an F-4B Phantom jet loaded with six Mark-8 bombs, four Zuni rockets and two U.S. Marine captains took off from DaNang Airfield in South Vietnam headed for the Quang Binh province of North Vietnam. As the lead aircraft on combat mission 412, their target destination was a strategic storage depot located in a heavily populated coastal plains area controlled by the enemy North Vietnamese Army.
Piloting the F-4B was Capt. John LaVoo, a 28-year-old product of the U.S. Naval Academy, with a wife and young daughter back home. His RIO — radar intercept officer — was Capt.