BESSOR, BRUCE CARLETON
Name: Bruce Carleton Bessor
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: 219th Aviation Company, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 10 January 1948 (Arlington VA)
Home City of Record: Fairfax VA
Date of Loss: 13 May 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 152330N 1073600E (YC787037)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Mike J. Scott (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 May 13, 1969, 1Lt. Bruce Bessor, pilot, and SFC Mike J. Scott,
observer were flying on an O1G aircraft (serial #51-16959) on a radio relay
mission for a Special Forces reconnaissance team in the area of the
Vietnam/Laos border. SFC Scott was assigned to Command and Control Central,
MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation
Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare
task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast
Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it
was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation
(SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG.
The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance
and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining
Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
At about 0800 hours, when the recon team had radio contact with 1Lt.
Bessor's aircraft, they heard aircraft engine noise southwest of their
position followed by 15 rounds of 37mm fire and engine sputtering but no
sound of crash, then a large volume of rifle fire from the same direction.
The reconnaissance team then lost radio contact with the aircraft.
Search aircraft attempted to enter into the suspected crash control site,
but cloud cover and enemy fire prevented them from doing so. On May 18, the
area was visually searched, but nothing was found. Bessor and Scott were
declared Missing in Action. They are among nearly 600 Americans still
missing in Laos.
In the early 1970's the Pathet Lao stated on a number of occasions that they
held "tens of tens" of American prisoners and that those captured in Laos
would also be released from Laos. Unfortunately, that release never
occurred, because the U.S. did not include Laos in the negotiations which
brought American involvement in the war to an end. The country of Laos was
bombed by U.S. forces for several months following the Peace Accords in
January 1973, and Laos steadfastly refused to talk about releasing our POWs
until we discontinued bombing in their country.
Consequently, no American held in Laos was ever returned. By 1989, these
"tens of tens" apparently have been forgotten. The U.S. has negotiated with
the same government entity which declared it held American POWs and has
agreed to build clinics and help improve relations with Laos. If, as
thousands of reports indicate, Americans are still alive in Indochina as
captives, then the U.S. is collaborating in signing their death warrants.