BROWNLEE, CHARLES RICHARD
Name: Charles Richard Brownlee
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 03 August 1931
Home City of Record: Alamosa CO
Date of Loss: 24 December 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170600N 1055600E (WD980925)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles D. King (missing from rescue helicopter)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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 2017.
SYNOPSIS: On Christmas Eve, 1968, Major Charles R. Brownlee's F105D aircraft
was shot down over Laos between the city of Ban Phaphilang and the Ban Karai
Pass. Brownlee successfully ejected from his plane and landed safely on the
On Christmas Day, Doug King volunteered to be aboard an HH3E helicopter
leaving Nakhon Phenom Air Base to rescue Major Brownlee. The helicopter
located the pilot, believed to be dead by then, and King was lowered 100
feet into the jungle to the ground. Once on the ground, King freed Brownlee
from his parachute, secured him to the rescue device and dragged him to a
point near the hovering helicopter.
Suddenly enemy soldiers closed in and began firing. King radioed that he was
under fire and for the helicopter to pull away. Brownlee was secured to the
hoist cable, but King had not yet secured himself to the cable. When the
helicopter pulled away, the hoist line snagged in a tree and broke, dropping
King and Brownlee about 10 feet to the ground.
No news surfaced about King or Brownlee until February 1986, when a Lao
refugee came to the United States and reported that he had witnessed King's
capture, and watched as he was taken away in a truck. The refugee's story
matched most details of King's loss incident. Less clear were the details of
Brownlee's fate, although a 1974 list published by the National League of
POW/MIA Families states that he survived his loss incident.
When the last American troops left Southeast Asia in 1975, some 2500
Americans were unaccounted for. Over 10,000 reports, such as that of the Lao
refugee, received by the U.S. Government since 1975 build a strong case for
belief that hundreds of these "unaccounted for" Americans are still alive
and in captivity.
"Unaccounted for" is a term that should apply to numbers, not men. Nearly
600 men were left behind in Laos, and our government did not negotiate their
release. We, as a nation, have a moral and legal obligation to do everything
we can to find these men and bring them home. Until we do, there can be no
"peace with honor" from the Vietnam war.
During the period they were maintained Missing in Action, Charles R. Brownee
was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and Charles D. King to the rank of
Chief Master Sergeant.
A bracelet opens old wounds but reminds us that life goes on