BYRNE, RONALD EDWARD JR. Name: Ronald Edward Byrne Jr. Rank/Branch: O4/United States Air Force, pilot Unit: 67th FS Date of Birth: 19 November 1928 Home City of Record: Great Neck NY Date of Loss: 29 August 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212800N 1045900E2 Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105 Missions: 27 NOTE: Flew the F-86 during the Korean War with 75 missions Other Personnel in Incident: none Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK March 1997 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: 021273 RELEASED BY DRV
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). RONALD E. BYRNE, JR. Colonel - United States Air Force Captured: August 29, 1965 Released: February 12, 1973 Ammunition in his own aircraft was exploding and flames were whipping back into his cockpit forcing Colonel Ron Byrne to bail out over enemy territory on August 29, 1965. But before doing so, he completed his mission and dropped his ordinance on target, an arsenal near the Red River in North Vietnam. Shortly after hitting the ground, he was captured and taken to the Hanoi Hilton where he spent the next 7 « years. For 30 consecutive days Colonel Byrne was tortured, his hands manacled behind him and his feet clamped in irons. "The North Vietnamese doctors told me I was very close to death," said Colonel Byrne. "A doctor said he would give me nothing to help unless I gave them the information they wanted. I went back to my room and they continued the torture." But they did not let him die because they needed him for propaganda purposes; when he came near death, they gave him intravenous feedings, vitamins and the medication necessary to save his life. Colonel Byrne said that the Military Code of Conduct and the Air Force survival training prepared the men to handle their treatment by the VC. For example, the POWs held religious services despite VC directives to the contrary. After the service, the captors would send the senior man to solitary. The next junior man would immediately take command, services were held again, and, in turn, he was ordered to solitary. After a while, the North Vietnamese found they were filling all the solitary cells and were forced to allow the holding of religious services. In addition to needling the enemy, the POWs also cheered and supported each other. When a man started to become depressed, another of the men might start tossing out comments of pessimism to goad him. The depressed man would snap back with optimistic arguments. In that manner, they maintained their morale. Born in Brooklyn, New York on 19 November 1928, Colonel Byrne was raised in Great Neck, New York. He attended Parochial Grammar and public High School in Great Neck. After three years in the United States Merchant Marine Academy, he joined the United States Air Force, obtaining his wings and commission in June 1952. He flew 75 air-to-air missions (F-86) in Korea in 1952-53. He then returned to Laredo AFB, Texas for two years. He was assigned to Bunker Hill AFB (now Grissom AFB), Indiana in 1956 and while there, met and married Joanne Kilcline. He was assigned to England AFB (F-lOOs), Louisiana in 1957 for two years where twin sons, T. J. and Reb were born (September 1958). In 1959-60 he attended Oklahoma State University to finish the requirements for a Mechanical Engineering Degree. While there, Sean Michael, the third son, was born (March 1960). In 1961, 62 and 63 he was assigned as Project Officer with the Titan Missile Program Office (Air Force Systems Command) in Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, where the fourth son, Darin, was born (April 1963) He checked out in the F-105 in 1964 and was assigned to Kadena AB, Okinawa, with the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In August 1965 he started the second temporary duty tour in Southeast Asia and after a few days, began 7 « years as the unwilling and unwanted guest of the North Vietnamese - to be reminded of that fact by them in so many unpleasant ways. He returned to the United States in February 1973 - the rebirth into a world almost unknown and back to a nation that has justified the faith that was placed in it and to a wonderful reception beyond belief. ====================================== Ronald Bryne Jr. retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and his wife Marie reside in Arizona.