Remains Recovered January 1990, ID Announced 19 July 1990

Name: Keith Allan Brandt
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: D Company, 101st Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division
Date of Birth: 27 December 1940
Home City of Record: Bellingham WA
Date of Loss: 18 March 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163811N 1062239E (XD469397)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AH1G
Refno: 1729
Other Personnel In Incident: Alan B. Boffman (remains recovered)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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. NETWORK 2010.


SYNOPSIS: Lam San 719 was the last major operation of the Vietnam War. It
involved American multi-service support of ARVN troops in an invasion of
Laos. The targeted area began around the city of Tchepone and extended south
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The operation was a concentrated attempt to
halt North Vietnamese troop and supply movements.

After the ARVN successfully took Tchepone, they elected to withdraw.
American Marines and Army aircraft helped them withdraw back into Vietnam.
All the while, NVA troops followed, and withdrawal, at times, was very

As the last of the ARVN 4/1 were being extracted and returned to Vietnam,
and had been trapped in a crater, Capt. Keith Brandt came on station leading
a flight of Cobra gunships in response to Command & Control request for
assistance to all helicopters. The ARVN on the ground radioed Brandt, "We're
completely surrounded," and asked Brandt to expend ordnance on his smoke (a
detonated smoke grenade, used to mark location).

For the rest of the afternoon, Brandt and his crewmember, Alan Boffman
stayed over the ARVN, returning to Khe Sahn for refueling and rearming three
times. He expended ordnance as directed by the ARVN sergeant on radio and
dodged NVA fire on low-level flights to pinpoint the exact ARVN location and
calculate the best approach route for rescue helicopters.

At nearly five in the afternoon, the 173rd Robinhoods began coming in from
the east to extract the beseiged ARVN. Brandt was still circling, and
volunteered to lead the helicopters in, as the ARVN had expended their last
smoke grenade some hours earlier. He radioed, "This is Music One-six. Follow
me, Robinhood 3, and I'll lead you to the friendlies." As they moved in, NVA
fire exploded around them. Brandt's Cobra shuddered and he radioed, "I've
lost my engine and my transmission is breaking up. Good-bye. Send my love to
my family. I'm dead." Then, the Cobra became a ball of fire and crashed in
the trees, rolling onto its right side.

With knots in their throats, the extraction helicopters continued their
mission. Of the original 420 ARVN who entered Laos, only 88 were left. They
had fought hard for 6 weeks. The helicopters were clearly overloaded, and
some had great difficulty staying airborne on the trip back to Khe Sanh.
ARVN were hanging from the skids of the aircraft in a desperate attempt to
reach the safety of Vietnam. Many fell, some were injured on landing. Of the
88 at the crater, only 36 made it back to the safety of Khe Sanh.

For Brandt and Boffman, little hope remained. They died as they lived,
helping others, and with honor.

In mid-January 1990, a joint U.S./Lao team excavated the crash site of
Brandt's helicopter and recovered human remains which were later identified
as being those of both Brandt and Boffman. For their families, at least,
comes the certainty of death.

For many of their comrades, however, clear answers are not forthcoming. Laos
is often called the "Black Hole" of the POW issue because, of nearly 600
Americans lost there, not a single man was ever released that had been held
in Laos. The Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held
prisoners, yet we never negotiated for their freedom. These men were
abandoned by the government for which they bravely fought.