Navy Veteran Michael Estocin is today’s Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Michael Estocin, who served as an aviator and received a Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Michael John Estocin was born in 1931 in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Slippery Rock State Teachers College in 1954, Estocin joined the Naval Aviation Cadet program in June of the same year. He underwent flight training at the Navy Air Station at Chase Field, Texas, where he received his wings.

In April 1967, while serving in the Vietnam War, Estocin was stationed onboard aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga as an A-4 Skyhawk pilot in Attack Squadron 192. Estocin was in command of a squad of three aircraft tasked with attacking two thermal power plants in Haiphong in North Vietnam. The power plants were protected by surface-to-air missile (SAM) positions. Estocin provided a warning to his fellow pilots of the SAM sites and successfully neutralized three of them. Despite receiving serious damage to his aircraft due to anti-aircraft fire, he succeeded in his mission and attacked his intended target. But, he only had enough fuel for five minutes of flight and was 100 miles away from USS Ticonderoga. Estocin refueled inflight and safely landed his damaged aircraft onboard USS Ticonderoga.

Six days later, Estocin was a part of a similar operation aimed at taking out another thermal power station. He and another pilot were sent ahead of the bombing squadron to neutralize any enemy SAM sites. The attack on the power plant was successful, but after the attack, an active SAM site was spotted by Estocin and his wingman. This active SAM site fired a missile that exploded near Estocin’s aircraft, sending it into a barrel roll. Estocin’s wingman, John Nichols, followed Estocin’s damaged aircraft and radioed for an emergency rescue. Nichols saw Estocin’s A-4 Skyhawk make an impact with the ground without seeing any evidence that Estocin had parachuted out before the impact.

For these actions in April 1967 in Haiphong, North Vietnam, Estocin posthumously received a Medal of Honor and was promoted to the rank of captain. Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor Jr. presented the medal to Estocin’s family at the Pentagon. A 1993 committee that investigated missing prisoners of war in the Vietnam War determined Estocin was not taken captive by enemy forces and likely died when his aircraft hit the ground. Other awards and medals he received throughout his military career include a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart and a Naval Aviator Badge. A memorial for Estocin is at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. A frigate, USS Estocin, was named in honor of him.

We honor his service.


Carry the Load

In 2022, VA is joining forces with Carry The Load to honor veterans during the “Memorial May” March, a national relay visiting 50 VA national cemeteries to honor our nation’s fallen service members. A link to this webpage is here. The complete list of participating cemeteries can be found here. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Writer: Jack Patterson

Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton

Researcher: David Charles Deprez

Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley

Project Manager: Oasis Diaz

By DME Interns

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Published on May. 30, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.3 min.

Views to date: 437

One Comment

  1. Mike May 30, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    Michael Estocin has NEVER been confirmed KIAn and he is STILL UNACCOUNTED for. He is MISSING IN ACTION. Bring home this Captured Eagle.

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