BARROWS, HENRY CHARLES
Name: Henry Charles Barrows
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, EWO
Unit: 307th Strat Wing, U-Tapao AB TH
Date of Birth: 09 Sept 1946, West Germany
Home City of Record: Westfield NJ
Loss Date: 19 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205900N 1054359E (WJ762203)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D ROSE 1 # 56-0608
Others In Incident: Richard W. Cooper, Nav; Charlie S. Poole, Gunner (both
missing); Charles A. Brown Jr., Co-Pilot; Hal K. Wilson, Pilot; Fernando
Alexander, R/Nav (all POWs released in 1973).
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 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.
REMARKS: RELSD 730329 BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs
were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White
House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only
when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized
cease-fire was in force.
On the first day of Linebacker II, December 18, 129 B52s arrived over Hanoi
in three waves, four to five hours apart. They attacked the airfields at Hoa
Lac, Kep and Phuc Yen, the Kinh No complex and the Yen Vien railyards. The
aircraft flew in tight cells of three aircraft to maximize the mutual
support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to
stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on the
military targets and not in civilian areas.
The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS"
surrounded Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. The first night of bombing,
December 18 and 19, two B52s were shot down by SAMs.
Onboard the first aircraft shot down on December 18 was its pilot, LTCOL
Donald L. Rissi and crewmen MAJ Richard E. Johnson, CAPT Richard T. Simpson,
CAPT Robert G. Certain, 1LT Robert J. Thomas and SGT Walter L. Ferguson. Of
this crew, Certain, Simpson and Johnson were captured and shown the bodies
of the other crew members. Six years later, the bodies of Rissi, Thomas and
Ferguson were returned to U.S. control by the Vietnamese. Certain, Simpson
and Johnson were held prisoner in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, when they were
released in Operation Homecoming.
Capt. Hal K. Wilson was in the lead aircraft of a B52 cell from Utapoa. Also
on board his aircraft were crew men MAJ Fernando Alexander, CAPT Charles A.
Brown, Jr., CAPT Henry C. Barrows, CAPT Richard W. Cooper Jr. (the
navigator), and SGT Charlie S. Poole (the tailgunner). Wilson's aircraft was
hit by a SAM near his target area and crashed in the early morning hours of
December 19, sustaining damage to the fuselage. In the ensuing fire, there
was no time for orderly bailout, but as later examination of radio tapes
indicated, all six crewmen deployed their parachutes and evidently safely
ejected. The aircraft damage report indicated that all six men were
Radio Hanoi announced that Poole had been captured and that he was
uninjured. Whether Cooper's name was also reported is unknown, as the airman
who heard this report on Guam heard only part of the broadcast, and being a
friend of the Poole family, remembered vividly only the parts concerning
Charlie Poole. When the war ended, however, only four of the crew returned
from Hanoi prisons. Hanoi remained silent about the fate of Charlie Poole
and Richard Cooper.
The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the
most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of
strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic
targets was so successful that the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken
the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in
Hanoi and marching them southward."
To achieve this precision bombing, the Pentagon deemed it necessary to stick
to a regular flight path. For many missions, the predictable B52 strikes
were anticipated and prepared for by the North Vietnamese. Later, however,
flight paths were altered and attrition all but eliminated any hostile
threat from the ground.
Linebacker II involved 155 Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers stationed at
Anderson AFB, Guam (72nd Strat Wing) and another 50 B52s stationed at Utapoa
Airbase, Thailand (307th Strat Wing), an enormous number of bombers with
over one thousand men flying the missions. However, the bombings were not
conducted without high loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of
December 1972, 61 crewmembers onboard ten B52 aircraft were shot down and
were captured or declared missing. (The B52 carried a crew of six men;
however, one B52 lost carried an extra crewman.) Of these 61, 33 men were
released in 1973. The others remained missing at the end of the war. Over
half of these survived to eject safely. What happened to them?
Reports mount that have convinced many authorities that Americans are still
held captive in Southeast Asia. Are Poole and Cooper among them? Do they
know the country they love has abandoned them? Isn't it time we found them
and brought them home?
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
HENRY C. BARROWS Captain - United States Air Force
Shot Down December 19, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
I was born on September 9, 1946, in Bremerhaven, West Germany. My family
emigrated to the United States in September 1958 and I became an American
citizen in 1962. I lived in Westfield, New Jersey until mid-1968. By that
time I had graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in German
Languages and Literature. In June, Christine and I were married. We now have
a family of four, which includes the two of us, a son Geoffrey, who is 2 «
and our dog, Dusty.
The Air Force and I met in January 1969 at Lackland AFB, Texas, where I
attended Officers Training School. I was commissioned in March and was sent
to Mather AFB, California for navigator training. After receiving my wings,
I remained there to attend electronic warfare officer training. My first
operational assignment took me to the 16th SOS at Ubon, Thailand, where for
the year 1971 I flew 120 missions in the AC-130 gunship over Laos, Cambodia
and South Vietnam. From the I went to the 99th Bomb Wing at Westover AFB,
Massachusetts. In September 1972 I returned to Southeast Asia to fly B-52's.
I flew about 50 missions before our crew was shot down early in the morning
of December 19, 1972, and my life changed.
We had just released our bombs on a communication complex on the outskirts
of Hanoi when we were struck by a surface to air missile (SAM). Due to an
uncontrollable fire I had to eject from 38,000 feet. After 1 « hours on
the ground 5 miles from Hanoi I was captured by peasants and militia and
transported as a "prize" into town. I received minor medical treatment for
burns, shrapnel wounds and scrapes, and was then taken to the "Hilton"
complex. That night I was taken to a press conference where the world saw
me as a talking nose, moustache and head bandage. I was tired and
For the next 101 days I existed on turnip and cabbage soup pork fat, bread
and water. Amidst the hours of boredom, anxiety, card games and bull
sessions we started a German class in what we called the Hanoi Chapter of
the University of Maryland Extension Division. Attendance was 100% and I
must confess all my students received good grades.
While at "The Zoo" on January 24, 1973 I learned unofficially of the peace
treaty from a Vietnamese repairman and the news was greeted with both
relief and scepticism. Eventually on March 29, 1973 I was released. Stepping
into the C-141 1 had the biggest lump ever in my throat when I saw the
American Flag after what seemed like ages. From there it was an exciting
journey home culminating in a gigantic reunion at Westover AFB on April
Fool's Day (my wife was worried, I wasn't).
The future will most likely find me in the Air Force at first flying and
perhaps eventually as a German instructor at the Academy.
Perhaps what has had the greatest effect on me is the lesson of man's
fellowship in times of anguish. We had to live together and comfort each
other and we did. While we may have been selfish before this was not the
time. Keeping faith in yourself and y our fellow man is a wonderful
experience. I learned this lesson the hard way and I did not leave it in
Hanoi. If the world could practice fellowship without the noose of hardship
we will have a better world. This I believe.
Henry Barrows retired from the the United States Air Force as a Lt. Col.
Lt. Col. (ret) Hank Barrows, USAF had a fatal heart attack 02/11/02 at
their home in Washington, DC. Hank was shot down during the Christmas
bombing in 1972 as a B-52 crewmember.
Hank and Suzanne were comparative newly-weds having been married on 7 April,
2001. Hank passed a stress EKG with flying colors on 20 December. He was 55
Funeral was at Arlington National Cemetery, Old Post Chapel, Ft. Myers
on Thursday, 28 February, 2002. His funeral was attended by surviving
members of his crew and the son of the tail gunner, as well as many other
POW returnees and River Rats.
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and his sons, Geoff and Brian.