On this date in 1969, Don Kirkland of The Long Beach Independent wrote about a sad letter Navy Maintenance Controlman Daniel Sundquist wrote to his parents. “We had another tragedy a few days ago. A great pilot we will all miss,” Lundquist wrote.
The pilot Lundquist was missing was Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Swigart Jr., son of Paul Swigart, co-owner of the Glide ‘er Inn. Paul Eugene Swigart, Jr. had died on February 5th when his jet fighter slammed into the deck of the USS Hancock and then crashed into the sea off Vietnam. Swigart was 25, a prep-medical student, married three years to his wife Kathryn, and father to 2-year-old Brant Paul.
Daniel Sundquist’s parents contacted Paul Swigart Sr. at the Glide ‘er Inn. The elder Swigart had received a telegram with news of his son’s death. “Paul loved flying, the Navy, and his country. He didn’t expect to give his life, but we knew if he had to, he would.”
Paul Swigart Jr. joined the Naval Reserve in 1965 and saw plenty of action in Southeast Asia. Once he ran out of fuel while pursuing two MIGs and had to eject into the sea where he was rescued fifteen minutes later.
According to his father, Paul Jr. was looking forward to the end of his tour of duty. His enlistment would have ended five days after the fatal crash. Paul’s body was never recovered, and his name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.
Four years later, Paul’s father would passed away at the age of fifty-eight.
– Michael Dobkins