BUSHNELL, BRIAN LEE
Name: Brian Lee Bushnell
Rank/Branch: E3/US Navy
Unit: Carrier Early Warning Squadron 116, US CORAL SEA (CVA 43)
Date of Birth: 09 March 1949
Home City of Record: Tualiton OR (misspelled in USG records - correct spelling Tualatin.)
Date of Loss: 09 April 1970
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 174757N 1074659E (YE950700)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Larry C. Knight; Charles B. Pfaffmann; Andrew A.
Horchar Jr. (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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: DWN AT SEA - NO SURV OBS - J
SYNOPSIS: The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the Communists
as early as August 1964. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the first U.S. Navy
strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in North Vietnam in early
1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The next year, reconnaissance
aircraft from her decks returned with the first photography of Surface-to-Air
Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1 Skyraider fighter aircraft was
retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The CORAL SEA participated in Operation
Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and
remained on station to assist the crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by
Cambodian forces in 1975. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS
RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh
Fleet in the Western Pacific.
One of the aircraft that launched from the decks of the CORAL SEA was the
Grumman E2A Hawkeye was a strange-looking aircraft, with twin turboprop engines,
four vertical stabilizers (three of which were actually necessary for controlled
flight, the remaining surface being added for appearance's sake), and a large,
24-foot diameter radome which rotated at six revolutions per minute, on a pylon
directly above the fuselage. The E2A mission was airborne early warning,
vectoring fighters and strike bombers to and from targets on the ground, as well
as airborne threats of MiG interceptors. The Hawkeye was literally the aerial
nerve center of the fleet, controlling bomber strikes and MiG-killing missions
with equal facility.
LTJG Charles B. Pfaffmann was an E2A pilot assigned to Carrier Early Warning
Squadron 116 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On April 9, 1970, he and his co-pilot LT
Larry C. Knight and technicians Seamen Brian L. Bushnell and Andrew A. Horchar
Jr. were launched in their E2A Hawkeye on a routine mission over Vietnam.
Immediately after launch, the aircraft crew reported a fire and their intention
to return to the ship. LT Pfaffmann's aircraft impacted the water about three
miles ahead of the CORAL SEA. A rescue helicopter and escort destroyer were on
the scene within minutes. No survivors were seen, and no remains were recovered.
The crew of the Hawkeye is listed among the missing because their remains were
never found to send home to the country they served. They died a tragically
ironic death in the midst of war. But, for their families, the case seems clear
that the men died on that day. The fact that they have no bodies to bury with
honor is not of great significance.
For other who are missing, however, the evidence leads not to death, but to
survival. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports received relating to
Americans still held captive in Indochina have convinced experts that hundreds
of men are still alive, waiting for their country to rescue them. The notion
that Americans are dying without hope in the hands of a long-ago enemy belies
the idea that we left Vietnam with honor. It also signals that tens of thousands
of lost lives were a frivolous waste of our best men.
Ref: http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/k/k381.htm et al
> LT Pfaffmann's aircraft impacted the water about three miles ahead of
> the CORAL SEA. A rescue helicopter and escort destroyer were on
> the scene within minutes. No survivors were seen, and no remains
> were recovered.
The above statement is incorrect.
The fifth crewman, AMEC Jack Lee WRIGHT, was recovered. He is buried in
Mount Olivet Cemetery, Forth Worth, Texas.
Sources are USS CORAL SEA deck log for 09 Apr 1970 (copy attached),
VAW-116 Aircraft Accident Report, and his gravemarker in Mount Olivet
Commander, US Navy (Ret)
Member, The Coffelt Group