FRYAR, BRUCE CARLTON
Name: Bruce Carlton Fryar
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 196, USS RANGER (CVA 61)
Date of Birth: 28 March 1944
Home City of Record: Ridgewood NJ
Date of Loss: 02 January 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 173400N 1053900E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Nicholas G. Brooks (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.
SYNOPSIS: On the second day of 1970, warplanes were launched from the
American aircraft carrier USS RANGER, passed over the South China Sea and
central Vietnam and began once again the almost impossible task of trying to
close the Ho Chi Minh Trail with bombs and guns.
The planes included A6 Intruders, at the time the best all-weather,
ship-based attack aircraft in the world. Sophisticated radar and other
advanced technology allowed the strangely shaped planes to bomb through the
clouds as well as veteran pilots usually did in the sunshine.
Flying one particular A6, the A model, was Lt. Bruce Fryar. The primary
missions of the A models were close-air-support, all-weather and night
attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night interdiction. Flying with
Fryar was Lt. Nicholas G. Brooks, the Bombardier/Navigator (BN). At an
altitude of approximate 7,000 feet, during a visual dive-bombing attack on a
target, the aircraft was struck by enemy aiti-aircraft fire. The Intruder
immediately begain breaking up and subsequently impacted the ground,
exploded and burned.
Both the strike control aircraft and the downed aircraft's wingman observed
two parachutes, and heard the beeper signals from two survival radios. Both
crewmen had safely ejected from the crippled aircraft.
Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts began immediately. Incident to SAR efforts,
one man was sighted on the ground in a prone position with the parachute
still attached. A SAR helicopter crewman was lowered to the ground and
attempted to attach a hoist to the prone man. Heavy enemy ground fire forced
the helicopter to depart prior to hoisting the downed flyer. The SAR crewman
had scarcely seconds to attempt the recovery, but was able to identify the
downed crewman as Lt. Fryar. The SAR crewman indicated that the flyer was
unconscious but did not have time to determine if he was dead or alive.
Darkness precluded further rescue attempts that day.
Upon resumption of rescue efforts at first light on January 3, the SAR helo
returned to the location of the prone man to find that he and the parachute
were no longer in sight. An emergency beeper was heard during the morning,
but attempts to have any pattern of transmission or voice contact were
unsuccessful. SAR efforts were eventually called off several days later.
Both men were classified Missing in Action.
The Brooks family later received information that Nick had been captured and
escaped at least three times. In 1982, Nick Brooks' remains were returned to
his family. His parents had his remains independently analyzed, and
satisfied with the results, buried their son at sea on March 25, 1982. They
had been recovered by "Lao Nationals" (freedom fighters), and returned
through an American working with resistance elements in Laos in an attempt
to bring home living American POWs.
Brooks' remains are among very few recovered from Laos. Nearly 600 Americans
disappeared there during the war, but as Laos was not included in the peace
agreements which ended American involvement in Southeast Asia, no Americans
held in Laos were released at the end of the war...or since.
Brooks and Fryar did not die when their plane was shot down. Brooks is home.
Fryar could be one of the hundreds of Americans experts believe are still
alive, waiting for their country to bring them home. It's time we did.