Retired Air Force Colonel Roger Locher paid another visit to McPherson Saturday night, speaking at a fundraiser for the American Legion for the American Legion riders.

 


Retired Air Force Colonel Roger Locher paid another visit to McPherson Saturday night, speaking at a fundraiser for the American Legion for the American Legion riders.
Locher and his wife Patty were previously in McPherson for last year’s Veteran’s Day celebration, where Locher was the featured speaker. Both Locher and his wife were so impressed by McPherson’s Veteran’s Day celebration, they were happy to come back.
Locher related the same story he told on Veteran’s Day. On May 10, 1972, Locher was on a mission in the backseat of his F-4 Phanton II over North Vietnam, when his flight was jumped by several enemy aircraft. Locher’s plane was able to shoot down two of them before being hit.
Locher described seeing his canopy darken because the fire coming from his aircraft was nearing his seat and falling out of control. Eventually, Locher had to eject, but had a close call when the ejector seat wouldn’t work the first time he tried it.
After trying a couple of more times, he was finally rocketed out of the doomed aircraft.
“Had I ejected manually, opening the canopy myself, cutting myself free from the ejection seat and rolling out the side of the aircraft, I wouldn’t have made it,” Locher said. “My life was spared by the sergeants and technicians that worked on that seat.”
Locher found himself 45 miles northwest of Hanoi when he landed, in an area where no friendly forces could rescue him. He had to walk 90 miles to get to a safe area. The trip took 23 days, where he was constantly on the run from enemy forces. At one point, someone searching for him actually stood on his leg without discovering him.
To date, Locher holds the record for the longest evasion after being shot down. He lost 30 pounds.
After the war, Locher moved on to flying A-7 Corsair II attack aircraft, F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters and the amoys “Stealth Fighter,” the F-117 Nighthawk. He also served several tours in the Pentagon.