WARD, BRIAN H.
Name: Brian H. Ward Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force Unit: 4th TRS Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Huntington Beach CA Date of Loss: 27 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212000 North 1062000 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Other Personnel in Incident: John Anderson, returnee
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS: 730329 RELEASED BY DRV
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
BRIAN H. WARD Lieutenant - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 27, 1972 Released: March 29, 1973
I come from a family of six. My father retired from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer. I spent the first half of my childhood in Massachusetts and the second half in California. I graduated from Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California in 1966; from Golden West Community College in 1968; and from California State University at San Diego in 1970. I majored in Political Science and Public Administration. I was enrolled in the ROTC Detachment at San Diego and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force upon graduation.
My first assignment was to Undergraduate Navigation Training at Mather AFB, California. After receiving my wings I went to Basic Survival Training at Fairchild AFB, Washington. Next, I went to Sea Survival Training at Homestead AFB, Florida. I remained at Homestead AFB for upgrading as a Weapons Systems Officer in the F-4 Phantom. Upon completion of my upgrading I was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of South Vietnam. Prior to arriving at Da Nang, I went to Jungle Survival School at Clark AB, Philippines.
On 27 December 1972 I was scheduled to fly as Vega Two on a Migcap Mission in the vicinity of Thud Ridge in North Vietnam. Vega One was engaged by a MIG-21 and we were flying on his wing. We were at three to five hundred feet and flying about six hundred miles an hour when we were hit by an air-to-air missile. The plane went out of control and we ejected. I estimate that my chute opened about fifty feet above the ground. I landed in a ditch next to a village and was captured immediately. The plane crashed a couple of hundred yards away. During the ejection I received a separated right elbow, fractured right shoulder, fractured left shoulder, compression fracture of the lower back, a broken rib and some cartilage damage to the right knee.
The trip to Hanoi was probably the worse part. My pilot and I had to ride in the back of a jeep. They made us sit on the rim of the spare tire instead of on the seats. The trip lasted one night and morning over some unbelievably rough roads and at the wild pace of a Bangkok cab. When we arrived at Hanoi we were kept at the "Hanoi Hilton." Three weeks later we were moved to another prison. This prison was called the "Zoo." I remained there until I was released on 28 March 1973. While at the Zoo I was in the Pigsty Squadron. Our area was called the Pigsty because when it rained the small courtyard outside our building turned into a mud hole. While we were locked up we passed the time by playing cards and holding a German class. One individual in our group was a qualified German instructor.
When they let us out each day we were required to make coal balls and sweep the courtyard. They have a very poor grade of coal in North Vietnam; it is real soft. Coal balls are made by wetting the coal and then forming them into balls, which in turn were allowed to dry and harden. These were used as fuel to cook the food and boil water. After making coal balls, we were sometimes allowed to play volleyball and mingle with prisoners in other sections of the camp. While we were mingling or playing volleyball we were watched very closely by the guards.
Due to our location in the camp we were the C-141 watch. Everytime a scheduled release was made, we manned the lookout for the C-141's going into Gia Lam. When we spotted one coming in or heard the big turbines whining we would alert the rest of the camp. It was a great feeling to see those big silver birds floating in and knowing that some fellow POWs were going home. Then on 28 March 1973 it was our turn to board the C-141 's. That had to be one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the people of the United States whose overwhelming support made me proud to serve my country. In times when public opinion is so diverse it was a great pleasure to step off the airplane at Clark Air Base to such a moving reception.
My future plans are uncertain. I intend to use the remaining three years of my military obligation to determine my plans.
Brian and his wife Carol live in California.