BRENNAN, HERBERT OWEN

Name: Herbert Owen Brennan
Rank/Branch: Colonel/US Air Force
Unit: 366th Tactical Fighter Wing
DaNang Airbase, South Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 27 August 1926
Home of Record: O'Neill, NE
Date of Loss: 26 November 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 172200N 1062000E (XE293215)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Stauts in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel in Incident: Douglas C. Condit (missing) REMARKS: 
REMARKS:

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 26 November 1967, Colonel Herbert O. Brennan, pilot and 1st Lt. Douglas C. Condit, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an F4C, call sign Pinhead 1, that departed DaNang Airfield as the lead aircraft in a flight of two. Their morning strike mission was against enemy truck traffic moving toward the Ban Karai Pass on its way to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Pinhead flight's briefed flight path was from DaNang Airfield northwest paralleling the coastline, then ingressing into North Vietnam 30 miles northwest of Channel 109 to proceed to the target area. Their return was to be by the reverse route.

This area of North Vietnam contained several passageways through the mountainous border region between North Vietnam and Laos including the Ban Karai Pass. American aircraft flew regular sorties throughout this region, and many aircraft were lost in it. On the Laos side of the border coursed the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a road which was frequently no more than a narrow path and which was heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving materiel and personnel to their destinations through Laos, then into selected areas of South Vietnam that were under the control of the NVA and VC.

At 0940 hours, the flight had completed its first target attack and was focusing on their second target. After making their first pass on it, Pinhead lead was seen to crash and explode into the rugged jungle covered mountains just to the west of the primary road on which their targets were traveling, approximately 7 miles north of the Ban Karai Pass, 25 miles southwest of the city of Ba Dan and 27 miles west-southwest of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.

During the heat of battle, Pinhead 2 did not see any hostile ground fire directed at the lead aircraft, and while they did not see any parachutes, they did hear two emergency beepers coming from an area very near the crash site. At 0942 hours, moments after the lead aircraft was downed, search and rescue (SAR) efforts were initiated. Each time search aircraft passed over the crash site, they received enemy ground fire. The pilot of an A1E Sandy reported light to moderate small arms fire in the target area along with .50 caliber heavy weapons fire. All SAR operations were suspended one hour after both beepers ceased transmitting. At that time Herbert Brennan and Douglas Condit were both listed Missing in Action.

On 1 June 1992, the Vietnamese returned Douglas Condit's remains without explanation. His remains were identified by personnel at the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CIL-HI) on 14 January 1993. While his fate is finally resolved and his family now knows where he lies, there are no answers to how or when he died. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for, including Herbert Brennan, there remain only unanswered questions.

Herbert Brennan was a full Colonel who had a distinguished Air Force career spanning 20 years. Even though he was not required to serve in Vietnam, he willingly volunteered for a tour of duty there. His prior assignment was as an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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.

Pilots in Vietnam 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.

                            Herbert Owen Brennan was a 1947 graduate of West Point.