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[Spacer] [Air Force - .8K] Charles Arthur Brown, Jr.
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  • Name: Name: Charles Arthur Brown, Jr.
  • Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
  • Unit: 307th Strat Wing, Utapao AB TH
  • Home City of Record: Boston MA
  • Date of Loss: 19 December 1972
  • Country of Loss: North Vietnam
  • Loss Coordinates: 205900N 1054359E (WJ762203)
  • Status (in 1973): Released POW
  • Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  B52D
  • Other Personnel in Incident: Richard W. Cooper;
    Charlie S. Poole (both missing); Henry C. Barrows;
    Hal K. Wilson; Fernando Alexander (all POWs released in 1973).
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    [Up - .1K] [Spacer] SYNOPSIS [Spacer] [Down  - .1K]

    SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured
    by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972.  During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings", 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong.  White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that
    the bombing would end only when all U.S.  POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force.

    On the first day of Linebacker II, December 18, 129 B52's arrived over Hanoi in three waves, four to five hours apart.  They attacked the airfields at Hoa Lac, Kep and Phuc Yen, the Kinh No complex and the Yen Vien railyards.  The aircraft flew in tight cells of three aircraft to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on
    the military targets and not in civilian areas.

    The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded Hanoi
    as they neared its outskirts.  The first night of bombing, December 18 and 19, two B52s were shot down by SAMs.

    Onboard the first aircraft shot down on December 18 was its pilot, Lt. Col. Donald L. Rissi and crewmen Maj. Richard E. Johnson, Capt. Richard T. Simpson, Capt. Robert
    G. Certain, 1st. Lt. Robert J. Thomas and Sgt. Walter L. Ferguson.  Of this crew,
    Certain, Simpson and Johnson were captured and shown the bodies of the other crew members.  Six years later, the bodies of Rissi, Thomas and Ferguson were returned to U.S. control by the Vietnamese.  Certain, Simpson and Johnson were held prisoner in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, when they were released in Operation Homecoming.

    Capt. Hal K.  Wilson was in the lead aircraft of a B52 cell from Utapoa.  Also on board
    his aircraft were crew men Maj. Fernando Alexander, Capt. Charles A. Brown, Jr.,
    Capt. Henry C. Barrows, Capt. Richard W. Cooper Jr.  (the navigator), and Sgt. Charlie S. Poole (the tailgunner).  Wilson's aircraft was hit by a SAM near his target area and crashed in the early morning hours of December 19, sustaining damage to the fuselage.
    In the ensuing fire, there was no time for orderly bailout, but as later examination of
    radio tapes indicated, all six crewmen deployed their parachutes and evidently safely ejected.  The aircraft damage report indicated that all six men were prisoners.

    Radio Hanoi announced that Poole had been captured and that he was uninjured.
    Whether Cooper's name was also reported is unknown, as the airman who heard this report on Guam heard only part of the broadcast, and being a friend of the Poole family, remembered vividly only the parts concerning Charlie Poole.  When the war ended, however, only four of the crew returned from Hanoi prisons.  Hanoi remained silent
    about the fate of Charlie Poole and Richard Cooper.

    The "Christmas Bombings", despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen.  Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that
    the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting
    an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward".

    To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick to a
    regular flight path.  For many missions, the predictable B52 strikes were anticipated
    and prepared for by the North Vietnamese.  Later, however, flight paths were altered
    and attrition all but eliminated any hostile threat from the ground.

    Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapoa Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with over one thousand men flying the missions.  However, the bombings were not conducted without high loss
    of aircraft and personnel.  During the month of December 1972, 61 crewmembers on-
    board ten B52 aircraft were shot down and were captured or declared missing.  (The
    B52 carried a crew of six men; however, one B52 lost carried an extra crewman.)  Of
    these 61, 33 men were released in 1973.  The others remained missing at the end of
    the war.  Over half of these survived to eject safely.  What happened to them?

    Reports mount that have convinced many authorities that Americans are still held
    captive in Southeast Asia.  Are Poole and Cooper among them?  Do they know the country they love has abandoned them?  Isn't it time we found them and brought
    them home?

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    [Up - .1K] [Spacer] LETTER [Spacer] [Down  - .1K]

    SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
    Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
    P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
    Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).

    UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

    CHARLES A.  BROWN Captain - United States Air Force
    Shot Down: December 19, 1972
    Released: March 29, 1973

    My name is Captain Charles A.  Brown (Charlie Brown) and I was shot down and captured over Hanoi in North Vietnam on December 19, 1972 while on a B-52 bombing mission.  My feeling at the time was initially one of great sadness because it was within three days of being reunited with my wife, who was scheduled to board a plane to come and visit me eighteen hours after I was shot down.  I found out later that she got as far
    as Los Angeles Airport before she was told the bad news.  Her parents live in California so everything worked out for they picked her up at the airport and she went home with them.

    My initial reaction to imprisonment was, of course, one of shock mixed with deep sorrow for me, my family and all my friends.  I was kept in solitary for only 36 hours, due to the fact that during the period of December 18 to 28, 1972 the "Hanoi Hilton" received a lot of uninvited guests.  The short solitary confinement helped to ease any feelings of loneliness that I might have had.  I knew of the negotiations in Paris and I had the hope that the agreement would be signed soon.  Thank God it was signed at the end of January and I was only in jail for 101 days - a short stay but still too long.

    In the sixty-one days between January 28 and March 28, 1973, the Vietnamese "fed"
    us a rather steady diet of propaganda and generally maintained the same war footing
    with us.  A big morale booster to us was the fact that our prison ("The Zoo") was so situated that for every release we could see the American C-141 coming to the Gia Lam Airport and going out with the released prisoners.  Just the sight of an American airplane made us cheer and the fact that fellow prisoners were going home really made for a joyous occasion.   When the occasion came for our release, which was the last from
    North Vietnam, on March 29, 1973, I was overjoyed and I almost cried when I first entered the C-141 and saw the American Flag.  lt was the happiest day of my life.

    Now that my imprisonment is over, I plan to stay with my wife and start a family.  I will separate from the service on about August 1, 1973 and enter civilian life.

    My message to the American People: We never know what we have until we lose it and freedom is one of the most important facets of life that is all too easily taken for granted. Throughout history, and even today, men are enslaved throughout the world while America stays free.  Cherish your freedom, for it is very precious and very hard earned throughout the years.  God HAS blessed America!

    Charles Brown Jr.  retired from the United States Air Force Reserves as a Lt. Colonel.
    He and his wife Marty reside in Massachusetts.

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