Name: Hugh McNeil Byrd, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: 220th Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 22 October 1943 (Pueblo CO)
Home City of Record: Berea KY
Date of Loss: 09 January 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162816N 1070200E (YD170220)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G
Refno: 1357

Other Personnel In Incident: Kevin O'Brien (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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: On January 9, 1969, Capt. Hugh Byrd, pilot, and 1Lt. Kevin
O'Brien, observer, were on a visual reconnaissance mission over the Khe Sanh
area of South Vietnam in an O1G Bird Dog aircraft, tail #51-5059. Byrd's
aircraft flew from the 200th Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 1st
Aviation Brigade. O'Brian's job as observer from HHC, 2nd Battalion, 94th
Artillery, was to identify artillery targets. The plane diverted to assist a
reconnaissance team that was in enemy contact in the Khe Sanh area.

After aiding the team and being relieved by another aircraft, Byrd headed
his plane back to Phu Bai. The weather was bad and the pilot reported at
1940 hours that that he was lost and the weather was worsening. The aircraft
was not equipped to fly instrument in meterological conditions. Dong Ha and
other radar controllers tried to get a fix on the Bird Dog, and were able to
maintain constant radio contact, but were able only to get an imprecise
location. Based on the direction the aircraft told them it was flying, the
radar station advised it to climb because of mountains in the area. No
further transmissions were heard.

Numerous searches were initiated following the disappearance of the
aircraft, but were broken off after a few days due to weather conditions.
When searches were resumed when the weather cleared, they failed to locate
any wreckage. Byrd and O'Brien were declared Missing In Action.

In August 1975, in the presumed crash area, a refugee reported seeing 2
downed U.S. aircraft which he described as one F5 jet and one L19. He was
told that 2 Americans on the L19 were killed and buried 1 kilometer from the
crash. The Army feels this report could possibly relate to Byrd and O'Brien.
(The O1 was formerly known as L19.)

Many authorities believe, based on thousands of refugee reports, that
hundreds of Americans are still alive, held captive in Southeast Asia. If
Byrd and O'Brien are among them is unknown. Dead or alive, they are in enemy
hands. It's time to bring these men home.

POW family of Capt. Hugh Byrd, Jr.
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2019 01:14:09 +0000 (UTC)
From: Sally Fridley <>
Reply-To: <>

I have the POW bracelet of Capt. Hugh Byrd, Jr. I have seen his etched copy of his name off
the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It says Capt. Hugh M. Byrd, Jr. I think it stands for McNeil. I've
done research and found his birth date and his picture. I'm willing to go to birthplace at return
his bracelet if they would want it. His name has been in my heart for 40 years.
Sally Fridley




On January 9, 1969, an O-1G Bird Dog (tail number 51-5059) carrying two crew members took off from Phu Bai Combat Base on a visual reconnaissance mission over South Vietnam. En route, the plane diverted to assist a reconnaissance team that was in enemy contact near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. After assisting the team and being relieved by another aircraft, the Bird Dog began its return to Phu Bai. Bad weather set in and this aircraft was not instrument equipped, and the pilot reported he was lost. Dong Ha Air Base and other radar controllers tried to determine the aircraft's last position but were unsuccessful. The Bird Dog disappeared from the radar and all efforts to contact the aircraft went unanswered. The aircraft and its two crew members could not be accounted for.

First Lieutenant Hugh McNeil Byrd Jr. entered the U.S. Army from Kentucky and was a member of the 220th Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade. He was the pilot of this Bird Dog when it went missing, and he was lost with the aircraft. After the incident, the U.S. Army promoted 1LT Byrd to the rank of Captain (CPT). Today, Captain Byrd is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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