BROWN, JOSEPH ORVILLE Remains returned, identified 12/03/98
Name: Joseph Orville Brown Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Detachment 3, 505th TAC Control Group Date of Birth: 29 September 1934 Home City of Record: Norwalk CT Date of Loss: 19 April 1966 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 173257N 1954157E (WE743404) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1F Refno: 0305 Other Personnel in Incident: Richard J. Robbins (missing from nearby A1E)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.
SYNOPSIS: In Southeast Asia, all tactical strike aircraft had to be under the control of a FAC, who was intimately familiar with the locale, the populous, and the tactical situation. The FAC would find the target, order up U.S. fighter/bombers from an airborne command and control center, mark the target accurately with white phosphorus (Willy Pete) rockets, and control the operation throughout the time the planes remained on station. After the fighters had departed, the FAC stayed over the target to make a bomb damage assessment (BDA).
The FAC also had to ensure that there were no attacks on civilians, a complex problem in a war where there were no front lines and any hamlet could suddenly become part of the combat zone. A FAC needed a fighter pilot's mentality, but but was obliged to fly slow and low in such unarmed and vulnerable aircraft as the Cessna O1 Bird Dog, and the Cessna O2.
On April 19, 1966, an O1F Bird Dog and a A1E Spad were lost near Na Pho in Khammouane Province, Laos. Their precise missions are not clear from public records, and in fact, the Air Force cannot determine the unit assignment of the O1F pilot, Capt. Joseph O. Brown. Both Brown and the A1 pilot, Capt. Richard J. Robbins were lost in hostile situations, and both are listed as Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered.
The Air Force reports that Brown's aircraft was on a FAC mission when his aircraft was struck by hostile fire. Brown then radioed that part of the right horizontal stabilizer had been blown off, and that he was going to a higher altitude. The aircraft was observed to roll twice while in a steep dive and crash. No parachute was seen, but white smoke was seen to rise from the crash site. Unspecified evidence was received by the Department of the Air Force on April 24, 1966 to confirm that Capt. Brown died at the time of the incident.
Brown and Robbins are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. Even though the Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American held in Laos was ever released. Tragically, since U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War ended, nearly 10,000 reports have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities have reluctantly concluded that hundreds are still alive in captivity today. There is every indication that the Lao can account for Robbins and Brown -- dead or alive. It's time we brought our men home.
No. 189-M MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS Dec. 3, 1998 The remains of two American airmen previously unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to the United States for burial. They are identified as Air Force Col. Gregory I. Barras, Jackson, Miss., and Air Force Capt. Joseph O. Brown, Norwalk, Conn.
Barras was flying his A-1H Skyraider on a night armed reconnaissance mission on Dec. 18, 1968, over Khammouan Province, Laos. The target of his flight of aircraft was a truck convoy. Barras radioed that he was beginning the attack on the target, but in the darkness, eyewitness pilots saw only a large flash near the target area followed by a series of explosions that formed a line 200-300 meters long. The other pilots were unable to establish radio contact with Barras, and heard no emergency beepe r signals. In the light of flares dropped from other aircraft, searchers could see only wreckage of an aircraft, but no signs of a survivor.
In 1991, a joint team of specialists from the U.S. Joint Casualty Resolution Center and from Laos interviewed a local informant in a small village near the crash site. He recalled burying an American pilot nearby amid the widely scattered wreckage of an aircraft. The team excavated the site and found pilot-related items, personal effects and human remains.
Brown was the pilot of a O-1F Bird Dog aircraft flying a forward air control mission over Khammouan Province, Laos, on April 19, 1966. He radioed that his aircraft's horizontal stabilizer had been shot away by enemy fire, and was climbing to a higher altitude. But as the crew of the other aircraft watched, Brown's aircraft went into a dive, rolled twice and crashed. They saw no parachute and heard no emergency beeper signals.
Joint teams of U.S. and Laos specialists visited the area of the crash on two occasions in 1994 and 1995. Led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, the teams recovered pilot-related items, an aircraft data plate from Brown's aircraft, as well as human remains.
Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii established the identification of both Barras and Brown.
With the identification of these two Air Force officers, the remains of 507 Americans have been accounted for since 1973, and 2,076 are still unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia. The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic which led to the accounting of these Servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of t he highest national priority.