|Name:||William James Brashear|
|Rank/Branch:||Lieutenant Colonel/US Air Force|
Cam Ranh Bay Airbase,
|Date of Birth:||01 March 1934|
|Home of Record:||Chula Vista, CA|
|Date of Loss:||08 May 1969|
|Country of Loss:||Laos|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:||F4C "Phantom II"|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Henry G. Mundt II (missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
On 8 May 1969, then Major William J. Brashear, pilot, and 1st Lt. Henry G. Mundt II, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an F4C that departed Cam Ranh Bay Airbase, South Vietnam as the #2 aircraft in a flight of 4. The flight was to conduct a road seeding mission. These missions were to deliver motion sensor devices, mines, etc., by air in order to either detect or destroy enemy movement through an area. Their intended flight path took them from their base, to a tanker refueling, direct to target, then direct back to base. Their target was a section of road, Highway 165, at the communist's Chavane Airfield, Saravane Province, Laos.
This area of southeastern Laos also contained major arteries of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, including Highway 165. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.
At 0951 hours, Boxer flight arrived in their target area and initiated the attack. Major Brashear and 1st Lt. Mundt, call sign "Boxer 31," was seen to roll in and complete their pass on the target. No radio contact was made by the crew of Boxer 31 upon recovery as they pulled off target. The Phantom sustained battle damage from enemy ground fire, but the crew was able to reach an altitude of about 7500 feet before William Brashear and Henry Mundt were seen to eject. One of the parachutes opened normally; however, the second appeared to the other flight members to be a streamer and was seen to land on the ground approximately one and a half minutes before the other one.
Search and recovery (SAR) aircraft were immediately on the scene, but because of heavy enemy ground fire, they were forced to retire from the area. One emergency beeper was heard and voice contact was established with the SAR helicopter crew. The downed crewman was able to report he sustained burns and injured his leg, but the transmission stopped before he could identify himself. However, one of the rescue personnel identified the voice he heard over the radio as being that of Major Brashear. At 1445 hours the search was terminated without establishing further contact with either crewman. At that time William Brashear and Henry Mundt were immediately listed Missing in Action.
Their location of loss was approximately 4 kilometers (slightly over 2 miles) east of the village of Tonghe Gnai and 500 meters north of Highway 165. This was also approximately 23 miles southwest of the Lao/South Vietnam border, 39 miles north-northeast of the city of Attopeu and 48 miles west-southwest of the major US base at Kham Duc, South Vietnam.
Highway 165 ran east/west along the northern edge of a jungle covered valley and intersected with several other primary and secondary roads that ran both north/south and east/west, all of which comprised different parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Chavane Airfield was located in the northeast corner of the valley. A power line ran along the eastern side of the valley and the adjacent mountain foothills to the west in a zigzag fashion. Several rivers and streams also ran through the northern third of the valley and into the foothills to the east of the valley.
In 1972, a rallier who was assigned to a Communist unit identified as Infiltration Group QL3030 reported seeing an injured American Major on 19 May 1969 at the Como Liaison Station (CLS) #63, Binh Tran 36, Group 559 in Attopeu Province, Laos. The Major was in the custody of medical personnel from Hospital 65.
That night an entertainment group from PAVN General Political Directorate performed for the CLS 63 with approximately 1000 people, including the American, in attendance. According to our government: "While US records cannot confirm this as being Major Brashear, date, rank and location are consistent with his case." There was no information provided about the fate of the second crewman.
William Brashear and Henry Mundt are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.
If William Brashear and Henry Mundt died in their loss incident, they have a right to have their remains returned to their families, friends and country. However, if either one or both men survived their loss, they most certainly would have been captured; and their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.
Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Fighter pilots in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.