BRASSFIELD, ANDREW THOMAS

Name:  Andrew Thomas Brassfield
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army
Unit:  Military Assistance Command Vietnam Special Operations Augmentation Command and Control North
5th Special Forces Group, 
1st Special Forces 

Date of Birth: 04 February 1937 (St. Louis, MO)
Home of Record: Sylvania, OH
Date of Loss: 06 April 1970 
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  161932N 1065123E (XD983057)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   : MACV-SOG, or Military Assistance Command Vietnam - Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG) was a joint service unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA) that provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed highly classified, deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction that were called, depending on the location and time frame, "Shining Brass," “Salem House,” “Daniel Boone” or "Prairie Fire" missions.

On 6 April 1970, SSgt. Andrew T. Brassfield was assigned as a rifleman to Reconnaissance Team Missouri to conduct an intelligence gathering mission against communist activity in the rugged jungle-covered mountains approximately 6 miles southwest of the Lao/Vietnamese border and 3 miles northwest of Tavauac, Savannakhet Province, Laos. This area of eastern Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. 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.

When the team stopped for a rest, it came under heavy and accurate ground fire from an enemy force of unknown size. In the ensuing firefight, the team immediately dispersed. Shortly afterward, SSgt. Brassfield was fatally wounded while attempting to gain better cover. The other team members were also all wounded in the ambush. They were unable to recover Andrew Brassfield's body and carry him out with them when they broke contact with the enemy. The rest of the team was able to evade capture and was later extracted. No search and recovery (SAR) operation was possible due to the intense enemy presence in the area. Andrew Brassfield was immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.

Andrew Brassfield is 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.

While the fate of SSgt. Brassfield is not in doubt, he has a right to have he remains returned to his family, friends and country. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate 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.

American servicemen in Vietnam were called upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances both on and off duty, 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.