Abrams, Lewis Herbert, Col

 Service Photo 
 Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary MOS
9907-Colonel, Naval Aviator/Naval Flight Officer
Last MOSGroup
Specific Billet MOS
Primary Unit
1967-1967, 9907, VMA(AW)-242
Service Years
1948 - 1967



 Last Photo 
 Personal Details 

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Home State
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sgt Gregory Erickson (Greg) to remember Marine Col Lewis Herbert Abrams.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Montclair, NJ
Last Address

Casualty Date
Nov 25, 1967
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
30E 083 / Section 64 Site 7138

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
New Jersey Vietnam Veterans MemorialVietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  1967, New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]
  2014, The National Gold Star Family Registry

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
On 25 Nov 1967 Lt Col Lewis H. Abrams and bombardier-navigator 1st Lt Robert E. Holdeman departed Danang Air Base in A-6A BuNo 152612 on a night strike against the Kien An airfield near Haiphong in North Vietnam. Radar and radio contact with Abrams was lost in the vicinity of Haiphong, and Peking radio later reported that a US aircraft had been shot down that night. The two crewmen were classed as Missing in Action, and in 1978 the Secretary of the Navy approved Presumptive Findings of Death for both men. 

Nothing was learned of Abrams and Holdeman for 21 years. In 1988, the SRV repatriated what they believed to be the remains of U.S. service personnel lost during the Vietnam War. Included in the remains was a military identification card fragment with what appeared to be the name Abrams. In 1993 and 1995, joint U.S. and Vietnamese teams investigated and excavated a crash site in Hai Phong Province, recovering aircraft wreckage from BuNo 152612, aircrew equipment, and fragmentary remains. The remains were repatriated on 11 April 1995 and the positive identification of both Colonel Abrams and Captain Holdeman was announced on 16 Jun 1997.


Name of Award
Navy Cross

Year Awarded

Details behind Award:
Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Colonel [then Lieutenant Colonel ] Lewis Herbert Abrams (MCSN: 0-53788), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of Marine All Weather Attack Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-TWO (VMA(AW)-242), First Marine Aircraft Wing, and as Pilot of an A6A Intruder aircraft in Vietnam. In the early morning hours of 25 October 1967, Colonel Abrams, in the first Marine aircraft to strike at the heart of North Vietnam's Air Force, exhibited outstanding courage and presence of mind in the midst of violent combat action as he successfully completed a high-priority mission by bombing the principal military airfield in North Vietnam. A highly effective integrated complex of hundreds of radar-controlled anti-aircraft weapons, barrage weapons with steel cables extending hundreds of feet into the air, two enemy airfields with MIG interceptor aircraft, and many active surface-to-air missile sites protected every approach to his target. Acting on an urgent fragmentary order, Colonel Abrams personally took charge of the preparations for a multi-plane, multi-squadron attack against the formidably defended Phuc Yen airfield. Barely six hours before takeoff time another fragmentary order was received, modifying the previous plan and requiring Colonel Abrams to make extensive last-minute changes in navigation and attack procedures, which allowed no margin for error. With grim determination, he promptly made corrections in heading, altitude, and airspeed and accurately delivered his bombs on the runway at Phuc Yen. Under the most demanding conditions of degraded systems operation, low-level flight in mountainous terrain in darkness, and in the face of a vicious volume of anti-aircraft and guided missile fire, Colonel Abrams courageously accomplished his mission of devastating the runway at Phuc Yen. His bravery and determination throughout the bitter action were an inspiration to all who were involved and were instrumental in accomplishing this crucial mission. By his intrepid fighting spirit, daring initiative, and unswerving devotion to duty, Colonel Abrams reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals
Action Date: October 25, 1967
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Colonel
Company: All Weather Attack Squadron 242 (VMA(AW)-242)
Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
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  News Report: July 10, 1997
Not Specified

Last Updated:
Apr 18, 2006

For LuEllyn Abrams, the questions remained long after a Marine knocked on her door one Saturday and told her that her husband had disappeared with his plane over North Vietnam.

For almost 30 years, the remains of Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Abrams, a Montclair native, lay hidden at the bottom of a water-filled crater on the edge of a farmer's field. On Wednesday, finally, he was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery as an honor guard of more than 50 Marines stood by.

"What most people can do in three days, it took us 30 years to do," his widow, LuEllyn Abrams, said. "It was just so perfect today. It finalizes a long period of time for us, puts a cap on things."

A 1947 graduate of Verona High School, Abrams vanished in his A-6 at 4:25 a.m. November 25, 1967, during a solo bombing run at an airfield in the vicinity of Haiphong. A surveillance plane above him at 30,000 feet circled for 35 minutes. But his plane a and its full load of bombs never reappeared on the radar screen.

Abrams was promoted to colonel after his death.

It wasn't until 1988 that Vietnam returned limited remains and a military identification card fragment that appeared to bear his name. U.S. military officials visited the Haiphong province in 1993, and Vietnamese officials directed them to a farmer's field, where there was a giant crater filled with water. Many villagers reported seeing a massive explosion in the field around the time Abrams disappeared.

A team of experts drained the pond and compared DNA from recovered material to blood samples from Abrams' sister, Louise. The DNA was similar enough to confirm the remains were the colonel's, and finally the findings were approved on June 16 by a military review panel.

"They gave me a little pile of stuff, wouldn't fill a shoebox," LuEllyn Abrams said. "It's miraculous the things that survived. I was handed my husband's dog tags today."

For many years, the questions surrounding Abrams' disappearance haunted his wife and four children. Those questions remained even though the military changed the colonel's status from missing in action to killed in action in 1978 because no information had been received to indicate that he might be alive

"In rational moments I knew he was dead," LuEllyn Abrams said. "But the human mind is a funny thing. You have dreams. Or all of a sudden, you get a sense he's back, tinglings of 'maybe I'm wrong.' The gulp comes up and it hits you behind the knees."

The Abrams children, teenagers at the time of their father's disappearance, clung to hope until they reached adulthood, she said.

On Wednesday, with two daughters at her side, Sara, 45, and Annie, 42, LuEllyn Abrams lined up behind a column of Marines at attention, dressed in blue and white. Her two other children, Ellen, 47, and John, 41, could not attend the ceremony. As a Marine drummer tapped a solemn beat, the family followed a caisson bearing the casket, and a solitary horse, with its stirrups holding two empty boots facing backward to signify a fallen hero. The ceremony took 30 minutes and included a 21-gun salute.

"Once he got in flight training, it was him and his airplane," she said. "It was pretty much the love of his life. . . . If something happened, this is where he always wanted to be."

After graduating from Verona High School, where he starred on the football eam, Lewis Abrams went to Yale University. He joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and eventually the U.S. Marine Corps to pursue his dream of being an officer. Abrams met his wife while stationed in Laguna Beach, California. An acquaintance introduced them because their nicknames sounded the same -- Lew and Lu.

Alan Noble, a friend of Lewis Abrams' from seventh grade through high school, learned of Abrams' death from a classmate as he worked to organize the 50th-year reunion for their Verona High School class. He remembers Abrams as "one of the guys."

"He liked a good joke," Noble said. "And he was always very smart and forceful in his thinking."

Also present at the ceremony was Senator Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., who praised Abrams as a man who "served his nation with distinction."

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