BROWN, HARRY WILLIS
Name: Harry Willis Brown Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Unit: 50th Medical Detachment, 43rd Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade Date of Birth: 16 August 1943 Home City of Record: Charleston SC Date of Loss: 12 February 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 121721N 1074713E (ZU030600) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H Refno: 1046
Other Personnel In Incident: Wade L. Groth, Alan W. Gunn, Jerry L. Roe (all missing)
Source: Compiled 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 in 2001.
SYNOPSIS: On February 12, 1968, SP5 Harry Brown, medic; 1Lt. Jerry Roe, aircraft commander; WO Alan Gunn, pilot; and SP4 Wade Groth, crewchief, were flying a UH1H (tail #66-17027) dispatched on a night medical evacuation mission (dustoff). Dustoff 90 departed Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam for Gia Nghai Special Forces camp.
As U.S. Air Force Tactical Control Radar operators at Ban Me Thuot tracked the flight, the blip that was the UH1H dustoff chopper disappeared from the screen at 2019 hours. The helicopter apparently went down 20 minutes outbound from its base in a mountainous region of Quang Duc Province.
An Army Infantry unit searched the apparent crash site near the Cambodian border for 36 hours, but found neither the helicopter nor its crew. Snipers were not known to be in the area, and it is not believed the helicopter was shot down, according to an Army report, indicating possible mechanical trouble.
In April 1969, CIA was asked to analyze the positive identifications made by a rallier of a number of photographs of missing Americans. The rallier selected the photos of both Harry Brown and Jerry Roe as two men he believed to have been prisoners of war. CIA could not determine why the source selected them.
In 1979, Sean O'Toolis, an Irish-American, was touring Bong Song Camp, 40 miles south of Hanoi, on an IRA gun-buying mission, when he alleges he met and spoke with American prisoners, Brendon Foley and Wade Groth, a prison workmate of Foley's. He also claims to have talked to men named MacDonald, Jenning and an O'Hare or O'Hara. He brought a message to Foley's brother and fingerprints of Foley and O'Hara. He identified old photos of Groth, and gave believable descriptions of Foley and Groth. Neither family knows whether or not to believe O'Toolis, as much of his account of his travels seems incorrect.
Whether the four men aboard the dustoff lost on February 12, 1968 survived to be captured is unknown. The coincidence of two separate sources identifying three members of the crew seems to strong to ignore. The U.S. Government does not believe there is any substance to these reports. Based on thousands of still-classified sighting reports, many experts believe hundreds of Americans did survive, and are still alive, waiting to be brought home. If even one is alive, he must be brought home.
======================= Heart of Illinois POW/MIA Association Newsletter May-June 2000 What Happened to Dustoff 90?
On February 12, 1968, a dustoff (Army unarmed medical evacuation helicopter) departed Ban Me Thuot, RVN enroute to Gia Nghia, Republic of Vietnam in response to an urgent medevcac request for two wounded Army of the Republic of Vietnam soldiers. On board was lLT. Jerry L. Roe (Callsign Dustoff 90) Aircraft Commander, WOI Alan W. 6unn, pilot, Sp5 Wade L. 'Red' Groth, Crew Chief, SP5 Harry W. Brown, Flight Medic. They never made it to their destination.
For some reason the helicopter crashed approximately 25 to 30 meters from the top of VC Mountain in triple jungle. Over the next few days an extensive search of the area was carried out using all available Army and Air Force assets in the area. The only lead was "fire and light" seen on the mountain by an AlE Skyraider pilot on the night of the crash, and their last known position on radar. Flare and gunships of the 155th Aviation Company from Ban Me Thuot responded along with an Air Force "Spooky", but they found nothing. Dustoff 90 and crew was listed as Missing in Action.
In 1970, a pilot back for his second tour of duty with the 155th Aviation Co., at Ban Me Thuot found the helicopter. He contacted Major Ron Porto, the former Executive Officer of Dustoff 90's unit, the 50th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) by telephone. Major Portci was also back for his second tour, this time with a Dustoff unit in Can Tho, RVN, as the Commanding Officer.
This conversation was witnessed by Jack Tragis, LTC (Ret), who told Ron Porta, "You should have seen your face", when he received the call. Major Porta wasn't prepared for this kind of call, and it was a shock to him.
The voice on the other end of the phone explained that he had found the lost helicopter. The helicopter was intact, the insulation, seats, and rotor blades were missing. Someone had been lowered to the ground to examine the aircraft and surrounding area. He found no weapons, but did find expended ammunition, port of a flak jacket, and a jungle boot. It was plainly evident that the crew could have survived the crash. Unfortunately, no one officially recorded or reported this discovery to our knowledge.
In 1970, a North Vietnamese Army deserter in Hue was asked to look at a book containing of missing Americans. He selected photographs of 1LT. Roe and Sp5 Brown saying, he had seen these men in captivity. These photographs were arranged alphabetically in the book, placing the photos of Roe and Brown widely separated on different pages. Military Intelligence personnel regarded this as a coincidence. Military Intelligence disregarded the statement of the deserter.
In 1978, an Irish Republican Army gunmmrunner by the name of Sean O'Tollis had an hour-long conversation with three American POWs workding on a section of the railroad outside of Bong Son. One of these men was a red haired freckle-faced American who said he was named Groth. The men were under guard, and obviously in captivity. He went on to describe in detail this prisoner of war for artists, and came up with a drawing that greatly resembled Wade L. Groth. Mr. O'Tollis also provided investigators with a finger print of one of the other men and something else that identified the other POW. Since Sean O'Tollis was an IRA gunrunner, in the opinion of our government, his word couldn't be trusted, and his statements were also disregarded.
On October 26, 1992, our investigators were searching for the remains of our Missing in Action in Vietnam, found Dustoff 90's helicopter again. This time essentially the some things were found. They found spent amnwnition, a boot, part of a flak jacket, and of course what remained of a helicopter. Large portions of the helicopter had been scavenged for its aluminum. In addition they found spent ammunition from an M-79 grenade launcher, parts of an M-16 rifle, and a 30 Caliber Carbine or M-14 rifle, and part of the rotor blade. The one thing that clearly stands out in the report is that they felt the crew had perished in the crash. They're findings were based on a large burn area at the site. They hadn't seen the helicopter intact as the 155th Aviation had found it. During the war, it was common practice to destroy a helicopter which couldn't be sold. The helicopter usually was destroyed in place with C-4, an explosive compound, or with rockets launched from other helicopters. The search team left the area feeling the case was closed. They expressed fear of returning to this site because of leeches and deadly poisonous snakes in the area. They were also concerned about active FULRO (freedon fighters) in the area, and the need for additional security personnel.
Were our investigators just trying to close another chapter of the POW/MIA Issue? The investigators had no knowledge of the helicopter being located in 1970. Nor did they know of the phone conversation between Maj. Porto and the caller from Ban Me Thuot. This information was reported to DPMO (the folks who are trying to close the POW/MIA issue by not trying to find anyone) by Pon Porta, LTC (Ret) and by Jack Trogis, LTC (Ret). Neither has heard a word from DPMO. They haven't been interviewed by DPMO. It's hard to sweep someone under the carpet when there are witnesses. These men: Cpt. Terry Lee Roe, SSG Harry W. Brown, and SSG Wade L. Groth were lost seen in captivity. The Vietnamese were holding them. They were ALIVE !
I will let you draw your own conclusions, but let me say this: Korean POWs who had been held in the coal mines of North Korea since the Korean war, have escaped and returned to South Korea since 1995. A large number of Japanese POW's from World War II held by the Soviets in the Siberian Gulags were released in 1995. If Korean and Japanese can survive years of captivity, why can't Americans survive in the hell we knew as Vietnam?
Dustoff still has one mission out!
Dan "Hoss" Caldwell 498th Medical Company (AA) RVN 50th Medical Detachment (HA) RVN 212th Medical Detachment (HA) Ft. Meade, MD
On Feb 12, 1968, SP5 Harry W. Brown took my place aboard Dustoff 90 at Ban Me Thout, Republic of Vietnam.
Looking for anyone with info concerning Dustoff 90 helicopter being found by the 155th Avn, Special Forces personnel, or Air Force personnel assigned to Ban Me Thout in 1970.
Don (Hoss) Caldwell 3760 University Blvd South #1096 Jacksonville, FL 32216 (904) 731-5037 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
================================================ February 1968 medevac crew still has not returned
On the evening of Feb. 12, 1968, aircraft commander Lt. Jerry Lee Roe, call sign "Dustoff 90," and his crew: CW2 Alan Gunn, pilot; Spec. 5 Wade L. Groth, crew chief; and their, medic, Spec. 5 Harry W. Brown, departed Ban Me Thuot in their UH-1H for an urgent medivac at the Gia Nghai Special Forces Camp.
The crewmembers and helicopter were from the 50th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance), normally stationed at Tuy Hoa, and were on standby at Ban Me Thuot in support of Special Forces operations in the area.
At about 8:19 p.m., 20 minutes out of Ban Me Thuot, Dustoff 90's blip disappeared from the U.S.A.F. TAC control radar screen.
There was no "May Day" call or indication there were any problems. That last position would have put them close to the top of a mountain we commonly called "VC Mountain".
The mountain had plenty of Triple A and small arms fire from the enemy, so it was normally avoided like the plague.
Yet the coordinates given for the last contact was about 100 meters from the top of the mountain.
Helicopter crews from the 155th Assault Helicopter Company were dispatched for search and rescue opera- tions.
An Air Force AIE Sandy joined the search and reported seeing "fire and lights" on the mountain.
The following morning, a helicopter crew from the 50th Medical Detachment piloted by the unit's commanding officer, Maj. Ronald C. Jones and the unit's XU, Uapt. Ronnie Porta, arrived and joined the search and rescue effort.
A Special Forces soldier using a "sniffer" device which detects the presence of ammonia in human urine also joined the crew. Flying low and slow over a mountain you normally could not fly close to made the search seem almost surrealistic.
We could have reached out and picked the leaves off the trees. It was unbelievable.
SOP for search and rescue operations: After three days of searching, if the crew or helicopter had not been sighted, the operation was suspended and the crew listed as missing in action.
Per SOP, the search and rescue on was officially suspended many pilots from the 50th MedDetachment would continue to search during missions in the area.
Now things begin to get strange.
It's 1970, and Ronnie Porta is back in Vietnam as a major and in command of his own dustoff unit.
He receives a call at Cu Chi from a friend at Ban Me Thuot who was there when Dustoff 90 went down.
His friend tells him the aircraft was found intact, minus rotor blades, of course. His friend believed the crash was survivable. They found an ambu bag, a pair of goldrimmed glasses, spent M-79, M-16, and .30-caliber carbine ammo casings, and part of a flak jacket.
Memorial Day, 1986: I had a report pulled from the POW/MIA database maintained by the National League of POW/MIA Families. Lt. Roe and Spec. 5 Brown were identified as POWs.
In April of 1969, the CIA was asked to analyze a positive identification by a "Rallier" who had selected their pictures from a book of personnel listed as missing in action.
The CIA had determined it was only a "coincidence" a "Rallier" could positively ID two people from the same helicopter crew; one black, one white, one located in the front of the book under Brown, and the other listed near the back of the book under Roe? (Just a coincidence?)
According to the "Rallier" the location of the POW compound where they were being held at the time was about two miles from Camp Eagle, "home" to the 101st Airborne.
I decided to look up Wade Groth, also. In 1979, about six years after all POW/MIAs not returned in "Operation Homecoming" had been declared dead by Hanoi and Washington, Groth had been seen alive and in good condition in a place called Bong Song about 40 miles south of Hanoi, working on a railroad section.
An IRA gunrunner by the name of Sean O'Toolis spoke to Groth, Brendon Foley, and another POW named MacDonald. O'Toolis was able to obtain a fingerprint of Foley and a note for his brother.
He gave the CIA sketch artist a description so accurate it was easy to tell it was Groth - red hair, freckles and all.
O'Toolis' word supposedly couldn't be "trusted". He was a gunrunner and worked for the IRA, and, therefore, was disreputable in our govemment's eyes. Since he freely took this evidence to the CIA, I would think he had some connections there.
October 26, 1992: A search team finds what it believes is the bum spot left by a crashed and burned UH- I H. Members of the team also find the same things I mentioned before: Ambu Bag, gold-rimmed glasses, part of a flak jacket, spent M-79 casings, and all the rest, but they are here to bury this crew, not to find them (my personal view).
So, due to the size and depth of the bum spot, the team reported the aircraft crashed into the mountain with such force it exploded and the entire crew was killed.
Excuse me, but the search team grossly oversimplified its "findings" on this point, 22 years after the aircraft had been found comparatively intact in 1970. No human remains were found!
What really happened to Jerry Roe and the crew of Dustoff 90? Are they prisoners of war or are they dead?
I am looking for anyone from the 155th Assault Helicopter Company who may have witnessed the finding of Dustoff 90's helicopter in 1970, or the person who called Maj. Porta with the information.
The standard procedure when I was in Vietnam (1967-68) was, if the aircraft couldn't be recovered, it was to be destroyed in place. In other words, the helicopter would have been blown up or burned by our side.
So, if an otherwise intact "bird" had been blown in place by our forces, the search team, not knowing this, would naturally come to the wrong conclusions, based only on what they saw at the crash site.
You would think also that nearly everyone "in the business" would know the difference between spent rounds that have been fired and those that have simply exploded in a fire.
The implication, of course, is plain: If the cartridge casings were from fired rounds, then Dustoff 90's crew was alive enough to engage in a firefight after they were on the ground.
They were never confirmed KIA (killed in action). Three of them were reported as having been seen alive. Therefore, they are still missing in action! We have one mission still out: Dustoff 90.
If you were in the 155th Assault Helicopter Company or Special Forces CCN, and you have direct knowledge of the finding of Dustoff 90's aircraft in 1970 or if you were a POW held with Jerry Roe, Wade Groth, Harry Brown or Alan Gunn, please contact: email@example.com
Don Caldwell artnhoss@bellsouth. net
Courtesy Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Newsletter 2001.