WARD, BRIAN H.
Name: Brian H. Ward
Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force
Unit: 4th TRS
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Huntington Beach CA
Date of Loss: 27 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212000 North  1062000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Other Personnel in Incident: John Anderson, returnee
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: 730329 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).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
BRIAN H. WARD
Lieutenant - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 27, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
                       
I come from a family of six. My father retired from the Navy as a Chief
Petty Officer. I spent the first half of my childhood in Massachusetts and
the second half in California. I graduated from Marina High School in
Huntington Beach, California in 1966; from Golden West Community College in
1968; and from California State University at San Diego in 1970. I majored
in Political Science and Public Administration. I was enrolled in the ROTC
Detachment at San Diego and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the
United States Air Force upon graduation.
My first assignment was to Undergraduate Navigation Training at Mather AFB,
California. After receiving my wings I went to Basic Survival Training at
Fairchild AFB, Washington. Next, I went to Sea Survival Training at
Homestead AFB, Florida. I remained at Homestead AFB for upgrading as a
Weapons Systems Officer in the F-4 Phantom. Upon completion of my upgrading
I was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang Air Base,
Republic of South Vietnam. Prior to arriving at Da Nang, I went to Jungle
Survival School at Clark AB, Philippines.
On 27 December 1972 I was scheduled to fly as Vega Two on a Migcap Mission
in the vicinity of Thud Ridge in North Vietnam. Vega One was engaged by a
MIG-21 and we were flying on his wing. We were at three to five hundred feet
and flying about six hundred miles an hour when we were hit by an air-to-air
missile. The plane went out of control and we ejected. I estimate that my
chute opened about fifty feet above the ground. I landed in a ditch next to
a village and was captured immediately. The plane crashed a couple of
hundred yards away. During the ejection I received a separated right elbow,
fractured right shoulder, fractured left shoulder, compression fracture of
the lower back, a broken rib and some cartilage damage to the right knee.
The trip to Hanoi was probably the worse part. My pilot and I had to ride in
the back of a jeep. They made us sit on the rim of the spare tire instead of
on the seats. The trip lasted one night and morning over some unbelievably
rough roads and at the wild pace of a Bangkok cab. When we arrived at Hanoi
we were kept at the "Hanoi Hilton." Three weeks later we were moved to
another prison. This prison was called the "Zoo." I remained there until I
was released on 28 March 1973. While at the Zoo I was in the Pigsty
Squadron. Our area was called the Pigsty because when it rained the small
courtyard outside our building turned into a mud hole. While we were locked
up we passed the time by playing cards and holding a German class. One
individual in our group was a qualified German instructor.
When they let us out each day we were required to make coal balls and sweep
the courtyard. They have a very poor grade of coal in North Vietnam; it is
real soft. Coal balls are made by wetting the coal and then forming them
into balls, which in turn were allowed to dry and harden. These were used as
fuel to cook the food and boil water. After making coal balls, we were
sometimes allowed to play volleyball and mingle with prisoners in other
sections of the camp. While we were mingling or playing volleyball we were
watched very closely by the guards.
Due to our location in the camp we were the C-141 watch. Everytime a
scheduled release was made, we manned the lookout for the C-141's going into
Gia Lam. When we spotted one coming in or heard the big turbines whining we
would alert the rest of the camp. It was a great feeling to see those big
silver birds floating in and knowing that some fellow POWs were going home.
Then on 28 March 1973 it was our turn to board the C-141 's. That had to be
one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the people of the United
States whose overwhelming support made me proud to serve my country. In
times when public opinion is so diverse it was a great pleasure to step off
the airplane at Clark Air Base to such a moving reception.
My future plans are uncertain. I intend to use the remaining three years of my
military obligation to determine my plans.
 
Brian and his wife Carol live in California.