Frank Prendergast was born on May 27, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Brock, Canada. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on January 24, 1964, and was designated a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) in December 1964. His first assignment was as an EC-121 Warning Star navigator with VW-11 at NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, from December 1964 to December 1965, followed by RA-5C Vigilante Replacement Air Group training with RVAH-3 at NAS Sanford, Florida, from January to April 1965. LtJg Prendergast then served as an RA-5C reconnaissance navigator with RVAH-13 at NAS Sanford and deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) from April 1965 to March 1967. During this time, he deployed to Southeast Asia with RVAH-13 aboard Kitty Hawk from October 1965 to June 1966, and from November 1966 to March 1967, having ejected over North Vietnam, been captured, and escaped all on the same day, March 9, 1967. Lt Prendergast entered flight training in April 1967, and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1968. He then attended A-4 Skyhawk Replacement Air Group Training at NAS Cecil Field, Florida, from September 1968 to April 1969, followed by service as an A-4 pilot with VA-66 at NAS Cecil Field from April 1969 to August 1970. His final assignment was at NAS Lemoore, California, where he left active duty on March 31, 1972. Frank Prendergast died on January 16, 1998, and was buried at the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California. Frank Prendergast is not listed on the PMSEA (list of all POWs and MIAs for the Vietnam War) put out by the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Officer (DPMO), as he was never considered to have been "missing" (during his capture and escape he was always in sight of U.S. Forces), but the U.S. Navy does consider him as having been a Prisoner of War.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism on 9 March 1967, as a naval flight officer serving with Reconnaissance Attack Squadron THIRTEEN, on a combat mission over North Vietnam. After being shot down, pursued, and captured by a group of enemy militiamen and soldiers in the shallow, coastal waters off North Vietnam, Lieutenant (jg) Prendergast calmly and accurately assessed his dire situation and cunningly conserved his strength for a bold and extraordinarily heroic escape. Demonstrating the courage and alertness of a disciplined and well-trained fighting man, he seized upon a most dramatic escape opportunity which presented itself for, at the most, a few fleeting seconds. By his exceptionally prompt, daring and heroic action at this moment, he succeeded in eluding his captors and was, shortly thereafter, picked up by a rescue helicopter. Lieutenant (jg) Prendergast's keen foresight, sound judgment and courageous conduct in the face of an armed enemy, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.