United States Air Force
This page has had visitors since 15 May 2006.
This site is owned by Christopher Miller
Date of Birth: 27 October 1934
Home City of Record: New Castle, PA
Date of Loss: 04 November 1966
Loss Coordinates: 212400N 1061100E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2
Other Personnel In Incident: Robert E. Brinckmann (remains returned)
SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing capability and ECM pods for the wings. The F model carried a second crewman which made it well suited for the role of suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses.
On 4 November 1966, Major Robert E. Brinckmann and Captain Vincent A. Scungio, both assigned to the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat RTAFB, took off on a surface-to-air missile (SAM) suppression mission in support of a strike on the Kep Airfield north-northeast of Hanoi. The SAM suppressors, known as "Wild Weasels", flew specially equipped two-seat F-105F aircraft; Brinckmann and Scungio were in F-105F tail number 63-8273, lead aircraft of Machete Flight.
Machete Flight was working multiple SAM sites when they came under fire from RADAR-guided anti-aircraft artillery. On the Machete Flight cockpit voice recordings you can hear then-Major Brinckman in the lead aircraft telling his wingman that they had been hit on the right side of the aircraft. About thirty seconds later Brinckman calls out again and says "OK I'm hit on the left now". Shortly after that #2 calls Lead and tells him that he is on fire. Major Brinckman replies "I know it." Moments after that you can hear another pilot say there are missiles all around them, and then another pilot calls out that Machete Lead is down. No ejections were noted and there were neither emergency beepers nor voice contact with the downed crew. Brinckmann and Scungio were classed as Missing in Action.
When 591 Americans were released from Vietnam in 1973, Scungio and Brinckmann were not among them. Military officials were shocked to learn that hundreds of Americans known or suspected to be prisoners of war were not released. In an attempt to determine those cases for which the Vietnamese should be able to make an accounting, the Defense Intelligence Agency expanded Brinckmann and Scungio's classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 2. Category 2 indicates "suspect knowledge" and includes personnel who may have been involved in loss incidents with individuals reported in Category 1 (confirmed knowledge), or who were lost in areas or under conditions that they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy; who were connected with an incident which was discussed but not identified by names in enemy news media; or identified (by elimination, but not 100% positively) through analysis of all-source intelligence. Still, the Vietnamese denied any knowledge of the two missing Americans.
The Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the two men on 28 May 1974. Captain Scungio was posthumously promoted to Major.
In late July, 1989 remains were returned to the United States by the Vietnamese which were subsequently identified as being those of Robert E. Brinckmann. Brinckmann had been -- dead or alive -- a prisoner of war for 23 years. The obvious question is how and when did he die? And, of course, where is Vincent Scungio? Nearly 2500 Americans did not return from the war in Vietnam. Thousands of reports have been received indicating that some hundreds remain alive in captivity. Vietnam and her communist allies can account for most of them. Current "negotiations" between the U.S. and Vietnam have yielded the remains of nearly 300 Americans. The families of these men at last have the peace of knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead. In the total view of the issue of the missing, however, the return of remains signals no progress. In the early 1980's the very credible Congressional testimony of a Vietnamese mortician indicated that the Vietnamese are in possession of over 400 sets of remains. In 15 years, they have returned barely half of them. More importantly, the same credible witness, whose testimony is believed throughout Congress, stated that he had seen live Americans held at the same location where the remains were stored. As long as even one American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia, the only issue is that one living man. We must bring them home before there are only remains to negotiate for.
Apr 05 1999 - Case 0512 was excavated by Joint Task Force Full Accounting during the months of February and March 1999. The site yielded remains, but it has not yet been determined if they were US or Vietnamese. Witness reports that the body of Scungio was buried in a local garden. The Vietnamese gave no new clues as to the ultimate fate of Vincent Scungio. It was noted that the Vietnamese said they found the remains of LTC Brinckman about 20 kilometers from the site they say Scungio was located at. Brinckman was found and given to the United States in 1989. Whether or not the remains are positively identified or not, Site 0512 was officially closed in March of 99.
All Biographical and loss information on POWs has been supplied by Tanna Toney-Ferris of the JUST CAUSE Adoption Center. Please check with JUST CAUSE regularly for updates.
Last updated 15 May 2006 by Chris Miller