|Name:||John Henry Ralph Brooks|
|Rank/Branch:||Staff Sergeant/US Army|
268th Aviation Battalion,
17th Aviation Group
|Date of Birth:||08 April 1949 (Lewiston, ME)|
|Home of Record:||Bryant Pond, ME|
|Date of Loss:||13 May 1969|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||(none missing)|
SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "Slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
On 13 May 1969, then Cpl. John H.R. Brooks was the crewchief aboard one of three Huey helicopters assigned the mission to insert Republic of Korea (ROK) soldiers into a landing zone (LZ). While approaching the LZ, the three aircraft came under direct enemy fire. As the insertion continued, an explosion was observed just under the Huey. It spun around in the air, then crashed on the top of a hill coming to rest on its right side. Once on the ground, the helicopter began to burn and then exploded.
Just after impact, one person was observed departing the aircraft through the crewchief's well. Three other individuals who observed the crash from a nearby helicopter identified the escaping crewman as Cpl. Brooks. After he cleared the wreckage, John Brooks was last seen running toward a nearby hill. Immediately after the crash, an attempt was made by another Huey to reach the crash site to pick up the crewchief. However, the attempt failed when the aircraft was driven away by heavy enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire.
The area of loss was in rolling hills dotted with clumps of trees approximately 1 mile south of a primary east-west road, 7 miles east of An Khe and 16 miles west of Phu Cat, Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam.
Three of the 9 Koreans aboard the aircraft survived the crash, evaded capture and were able to link up with ROK and American units the next day. One of the survivors reported an American, the door gunner, was killed when he was pinned under the helicopter. He also reported seeing Cpl. Brooks and two ROK soldiers running away from the burning aircraft.
The next day members of a search and recovery (SAR) team arrived at the crash site. They were able to locate and recover the bodies of the pilot, co-pilot and door gunner, along with the dead Korean soldiers, near the burned wreckage. The recovery team discovered equipment thought to belong to John Brooks near the crash site. In their after action report, all recovery personnel verified a conversation they had with a Korean soldier while at the crash site, who had been in the helicopter and survived the crash. He also reported seeing one American and two Koreans running down the hill from the crash site away from the burning wreckage.
On 16 May, a thorough search of the surrounding area was conducted. This search yielded no trace of the missing crewchief. Likewise, no evidence was found by the search team to lead them to believe he was still in the area. At the time the formal search was terminated, John Brooks was listed Missing in Action.
If John Brooks died as a result of this loss, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived, the same enemy forces who shot his helicopter down most certainly would have captured him. If so, his fate like that of other American 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 America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Pilots and aircrews 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.