BROWNING, RALPH THOMAS

Name: Ralph Thomas Browning
Rank/Branch: O2/ United States Air Force
Unit: 333 TFS
Date of Birth: 25 October 1941
Home City of Record: Orlando FL
Date of Loss: 08 July 66
Country of Loss: Norrth Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213700 North  1054900 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee -- Originally listed as Killed In Action
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105 # 0158
Missions:
Other Personnel in Incident:
Refno: 0389

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.

REMARKS:

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).

Ralph T. Browning
Captain- United States Air Force
Shot Down: July 8, 1966
Released: February 12, 1973
                      
Hi - allow me to introduce myself - USAF Captain Ralph Thomas
Browning (Tom); my wife, Ann; and our son, Scott.

I was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts on 25 October 1941 to Sgt. and Mrs. C.
K. Browning. My Dad left shortly thereafter for Europe and WW II where he
was a navigator/bombadier on a B-17B, was subsequently shot down and spent
19 bleak months as a POW in Stalag 17B. Since he remained in the Air Force
after its formation in 1947 we traveled around a great deal but ended up in
Orlando, Florida in 1955 where I lived with them and three younger sisters
through graduation from high school in 1960. While at Edgewater High I
crowned my wife-to-be, Ann Pharr, Homecoming Queen.

After high school, I was off to the Air Force Academy. On 3 June 1964, I
received my commission and a B. S. degree in Engineering Science.
The next two found me at Vance AFB, Enid, Oklahoma, in Pilot Training,
then at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, Nevada for F-105 school. Then in late May
1966, I went off to fight a war.

In the late afternoon of 8 July 1966, my F-105 took a direct hit from 85 mm
anti-aircraft fire, burst into flames, went out of control, and I ejected.
While on the ground, before I was captured, I buried my wedding ring and a
small Bible given to me the night before I left, which I always carried. I
reasoned that they would rob me of everything (which they did), and that if
I couldn't keep them, I certainly didn't want the North Vietnamese to have
them.

The gory details of my six and a half years of confinement aren't much
different from those of many of my fellows, so I won't bore the reader with
them other than to mention one personal note: I wasn't allowed a letter
until 15 April 1970. The letter told me that I had a son named Scott.
Earlier, on 5 February 1969, I had received a picture of him in a small
package.

12 February 1973 was the big day when the third of three Air Force Evac
C-141's took me with 27 others from Hanoi's Gia Lam Airport to Clark AB in
the Philippines and FREEDOM! Five days later at 0030, I was reunited with
my son for the first time at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. These two events are
undoubtedly the happiest of my life, followed by the night of 2 March when I
returned to Orlando with many old and new friends and home!

As for the future: I plan to stay in the Air Force and we have high hopes
for raising a family in a happy home.

What sustained me? Faith. Faith in God; faith in the government and people
of the United States; faith in my wife and family; and faith in my fellow
POWs.

During my captivity I was at times as depressed and dejected as I feel a
human being can be. It was a profound faith in God and belief that He would
see me through that helped raise me from these depths of despondency and
helped sustain me through the years. Although imprisoned for six and a half
years, there was never any doubt that someday I would be going home. There
was never a doubt that the United States of America, from the President,
himself, through the vast majority of American citizens, would never let us
down and would do everything in their power to insure that we came home
under honorable conditions. It would be impossible to explain to the
uninitiated how unshakable bonds of friendship can be built through dismal
walls without so much as a handshake or fleeting glimpse. But this was a
fact in many cases. I was prepared to take my lumps for the sake of my
fellows and what we believed and they would do the same for me; and we did.
This faith was knowledge and from this knowledge I derived strength.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their thoughts,
prayers and concern. We have answered some 1000 cards and letters from
bracelet-wearers and well-wishers, and again, thank you for caring.

-----------------------
Ralph Browning retired from the United States Air Force as a Brig. General.
He and his wife Julie reside in Arizona.