BRASSFIELD, ANDREW THOMAS
|Name: Andrew Thomas Brassfield
Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Special Forces
Unit: CCN/MACV-SOG, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 04 February 1937 (St. Louis MO)
Home City of Record: Sylvania OH
Date of Loss: 06 April 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161932N 1065123E (XD983057)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none 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 2017.
SYNOPSIS: SSgt. Andrew T. Brassfield was assigned to 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"
On April 6, 1970, SSgt. Brassfield was operating in Laos with a team known
as Reconnaissance Team Missouri on an intelligence gathering mission. The
team was operating about 5 miles inside Laos east of Muong Nong in
As the team stopped for a rest, it came under heavy enemy fire. In
attempting to gain better cover, Brassfield was fatally wounded. The
remaining team members were unable to recover his body because they had all
been injured and were unable to carry him while trying to break contact with
the enemy. Brassfield was never found.
For every insertion like Brassfield's that were detected and stopped, dozens
of other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range
of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions
conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia
was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding,
sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military
history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most
combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
The missions Brassfield and others were assigned were exceedingly dangerous
and of strategic importance. The men who were put into such situations knew
the chances of their recovery if captured was slim to none. They quite
naturally assumed that their freedom would come by the end of the war. For
591 Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another 2500,
however, freedom has never come.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities
that hundreds remain alive in captivity. While Brassfield may not be among
them, what would he think of his country abandoning its best men?