Pan Am Hijaking in 1972
My father was Eugene Vaughn, a Pan Am captain that retired in 1979 after 38 years. He was hijacked in 1972 on a flight from Hong Kong to Saigon by a North Vietnamese sympathizer. The hijacker wanted my father to take the plane to Hanoi and my father flew it on to Saigon while having the cockpit secured by two U.S. Marine passengers. He also gave the on-board sky marshall his 357 Magnum gun.
After landing in Saigon, my father taxied the aircraft to a secured military area. After shutting down the aircraft systems, he then walked to the back of the plane and confronted the hijacker. The hijacker had taken a flight attendant hostage with a knife and a paper bag that he said had plastic explosives in it. My father approached the hijacker and then lunged on him pulling him to the ground. The Sky Marshall then came up and my father ordered the skymarshall to shoot the hijacker. The hijacker was shot 5 times in the chest. My father then got up, opened the rear door of the 747, picked up the dead hijacker's body and threw him on to the ramp.
My dad was a true hero for Pan Am, his passengers and crew. He was awarded the President's Award by Pan Am and also received many other civil and military commendations. He passed away from cancer in 1984. My mother, a former Pan Am stewardess, is still living in Fort Worth, Texas.
I grew up with Pan Am and now both my brother follow in his footsteps as airline pilots. I look so fondly at my charmed life as a daughter of a Pan Am captain.
Janet Elliott (Vaughn)