Name:  Bruce Carlton Fryar
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant/US Navy
Unit:  Attack Squadron 196
USS Ranger (CVA-61) 

Date of Birth: 28 March 1944 (Seattle, WA)
Home of Record: Ridgewood, NJ
Date of Loss: 02 January 1970
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  173400N 1053900E (WE670425) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  A6A "Intruder"
Other Personnel in Incident: Nicholas G. Brooks (missing)


SYNOPSIS:   With the addition of the Grumman A6A Intruder to its inventory, the Navy and Marine Air Wings had the finest two-man, all-weather, low-altitude attack/bombing aircraft in the world. It displayed great versatility and lived up to the expectations of those who pushed for its development after the Korean War. At the time it was the only operational aircraft that had a self-contained all-weather bombing capacity including a moving target indicator mode. In this role it usually carried a bomb load of 14,000 pounds and was used rather extensively in the monsoon throughout Southeast Asia. The Intruder was credited with successfully completing some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, and its' air crews were among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.

On 2 January 1970, Lt. Bruce C. Fryar, pilot; and Lt. Nicholas G. Brook, bombardier/navigator; launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger in an A6A as the lead aircraft in a flight of two on an bombing mission against targets in Laos. The targets were located in the foothills on south side of a jungle-covered mountain range approximately 59 miles due west of the major North Vietnamese port city of Dong Hoi, 7 miles southwest of the Lao/Vietnamese border and 5 mile northeast of Ban Senphon, Khammouan 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.

At 1800 hours, during their visual dive bombing attack, the Intruder was struck by anti-aircraft artillery fire, immediately began breaking up and exploded upon impacting the ground. Two parachutes were sighted by both the strike control aircraft and the downed aircraft's wingman, and two survival signals were heard by them. Further, one man was sighted on the ground in a prone position with the parachute still attached. When search and rescue (SAR) personnel arrived on site a short time later, a pararescueman (PJ) was lowered to the ground. He attempted to attach the unconscious flyer to a hoist for rescue, however, heavy enemy fire forced the SAR aircraft away before that could be accomplished. The PJ had sparse seconds to attempt the recovery, but in that time, was able to positively identify the downed crewman as Lt. Fryar. Darkness precluded further rescue attempts that day. The next morning at first light SAR aircraft returned to the known location of Bruce Fryar only to find that both the pilot and his parachute had been removed. Over the next several days visual and electronic searches continued, but found no trace of either crewman. At the time SAR efforts were terminated, both Bruce Fryar and Nicholas Brooks were listed Missing in Action.

Lt. Brooks family learned through intelligence reports that he had been captured and was believed to have attempted at least three escape attempts only to be recaptured. On 3 February 1982, Lao Nationals, frequently referred to as Freedom Fighters, recovered and turned over Nicholas Brook's remains to an American citizen working with resistance elements in Laos. Those remains were subsequently identified as his on 4 March 1982. Per his family's request, Nicholas G. Brooks was buried at sea

Bruce C. Fryar 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.

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 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.