Last Known Activity|
This is a story of a hero's last mission
05 Dec 1966
The 388th TFW (Tactical Fighter Wings), 421st TFS, Flintstone flight, departed Korat RTAFB (Royal Thai Air Force Base) on an Iron Hand (Surface to Air suppression) mission on the afternoon of 05DEC66. The target, SAM launch sites on the northern edge of Thud Ridge, in Route Pack 6 (RP6), NW of Hanoi. The flight consisted of Flight leader, Flintstone 1, an F105F Wild Weasel 2 seat aircraft, piloted by Captain John Hill accompanied by EWO (Electronic Warfare Officer) John R Buick, from the 13th TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron) and 3 F105Ds from the 421st TFS. Flinstone 2 was piloted by Captain Frank Reamer, number 3 was Captain Norman Suits and in number 4 was 421st Operations Officer, Major Burriss Begley.
Summary of action
Upon arrival at the turning point to head down the ridge, Two Mig 17s were waiting behind the ridge. As Number 4 was making his turn under number 3 (at his most vulnerable position), Maj Begley called the break saying he was hit. Maj Begleys last transmission was clear and calm indicating he had not been injured. He stated he had just crossed the Red, was losing power and altitude and was going to eject.
: occurred slot newbienewbie slot.
NOTE: According to the History of the 421st TFS 1963-1967, only one Lt was assigned to the Squadron in December, 1Lt John R. Haack. Lt Haack flew his 100th mission, after transfer to the 44th TFS. He continued his military career and retired as Major General in the Florida Air National Guard.
Interview: Captain Frank Reamer
Two Mig 17s were waiting for us behind the ridge when we arrived at our turn point to go down the ridge. As Number 4 was making his turn under number 3 (at his most vulnerable position), Maj Begley called the break saying he was hit. Flight lead and I jettisoned everything and broke right pulling max Gs. We were bouncing so much that we could not get a visual on Maj Begley.
s plane. Number 3 turned to pick up the Mig on number 4s six. His guns jammed and he did not get off a shot. Maj Begleys last transmission was clear and calm indicating he had not been injured. He said he had just crossed the Red, was losing power and altitude and he was going to eject. We determined that he had not actually crossed the Red river (a safer place to eject), just a tributary of the Red River. I did not hear a beeper, but there was a lot of chatter. Some pilots preferred to disconnect the beeper. I dont know if that was Maj Begleys preference. No search and rescue was attempted due to the location of the crash.
After action report - Captain Norman L Suits
At approximately 1552 as we were approaching our turn point to head down the ridge, I looked around to my wingman, Flintstone 4, and observed a Mig coming out of the sun and firing at number 4. I called him to break but was blocked out by his transmission saying he was hit. I saw pieces of the tail and drag chute coming off his plane. The Mig overshot in a left climbing turn and I got him in my sights, but the gun would not fire. I then jettisoned everything and turned to pick up number 4. I saw his airplane burning and observed another Mig coming in at my six. I went burner and accelerated past number 4 and his aircraft (62-4331) crashed near a wooded hill about 15 miles from Yen Bai. I was about 2 miles from him and did not see a chute.
attackCapt. Capt.gs 8 oclock. He squeezed the trigger and nothing happened. He squeezed several more times but the gun would not fire. (The post flight check found the gun control box to be inoperative. Providing no power to the gun. Suits saw another Mig firing at him and he lit the afterburner and outran the smaller jet. The three pilots in Flintstone flight joined up about 30 miles from where Begley had crashed.
Major Begley was declared Missing in Action (MIA), REFNO 0542, 05 Dec 1966 and was subsequently promoted to Colonel. He continued in this status until changed to presumptive finding of dead, remains not recovered, 04 Apr 1978. USAFHQ
Colonel Begley was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for a mission conducted 05Nov66 (one month prior to his loss). The citation stated He was flight leader of a flight of four F105 aircraft on a combat support mission over hostile territory. Despite intense barrages of hostile fire, Major Begley successfully led his flight to the secondary target (a moving train), when the primary target was obscured by bad weather. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Major Begley, during this mission, reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. NPRC
Colonel Begleys previous experience included combat missions flown in the P-51D in the Pacific Theatre, during WW II (1945), and in the F-84E in the Korean conflict (1952), plus a previous TDY to Viet Nam in 1965. NPRC
On 4 November 1993 A U.S./S.R.V. Joint Team in the Doan Hung District, the recorded location of Col. Begleys loss, but failed to find any evidence of an aircraft crash. The team interviewed local informants but obtained no information related to this case. Additional information from the Vietnamese Government on the (Dec 1986) repatriated remains indicated they were recovered in another location, Thai Long Village, Yen Son District.
On 11 Mar 1994 a joint U.S./S.R.V. team conducted an investigation in Thai Long Village. The Team interviewed one witness who provided firsthand information concerning the crash of an F105 aircraft. The Witness was Mr. Tieu Van Chang, a 71 year old resident and former Chairman of the Thai Long Village. Mr. Chang provided the following information:
The date of the incident was in the tenth Lunar month of 1966, during rice harvest. The time was about 4 pm and he was standing outside his house and observed 3 aircraft approaching his village from West to East. One of the 3 was on fire and crashed into a partially constructed food warehouse, about 500 meters from his house. killing two women inside. Mr. Chang also saw the pilot eject, but the chute did not open. The pilot landed in a rice field about 300 meters from the aircraft. The other two aircraft continued their flight. Mr. Chang learned later from a local NVA unit that the downed aircraft was an F-105.
Mr. Chang immediately went to the site where the pilot landed and found the pilot dead and strapped in his seat. The pilot was not wearing a helmet, yet the only apparent damage was a broken left leg. Mr. Chang left the pilot outside and returned to bury the body on the following morning. He buried the body in the spot where he landed about 1.5 meters deep. About 2 years later he wished to cultivate the field and exhumed the remains placing the remains in two ammo boxes, and reburied them a few meters away. In an unrecalled year, a province team led by Mr. Son, came to the village and exhumed the remains and took the two ammo boxes. Shortly after the crash, a province team led by Mr. Cats came to collect the pilots equipment and personal effects, 46 items, including watch, ring, revolver, uniform, seat, chute and picture of woman and two children .The aircraft wreckage was loaded onto vehicles and transported. JTFFA
On 26 November 1986, The S.R.V, repatriated to the U.S skeletal remains they associated with Burriss N Begley. They were received at the Central Identification Lab in Honolulu, Hawaii. The CID were unable to identify the remains. Note: His (our) mother passed away 2 months later, January 27, 1967.
On 11 December 1991, 4 bone samples were submitted to the Armed Forces Identification lab for mitochondrial DNA. AFID failed to sequence sufficient mtDNA for comparison. On 15 March 1993 two bone samples were submitted to the University of California-Berkley for mtDNA. Results from the UCLA-Berkley were inconclusive, In November 1994 the AFDIL reopened the case and successfully sequenced mtDNA from all 4 bone samples. Those mtDNA sequences matched mtDNA sequences derived from a blood sample obtained from a maternal relative of Col. Begley
On 4 November 1993 A U.S./S.R.V. Joint Team in the Doan Hung District, the recorded location of Col. Begley loss, but failed to find any evidence of an aircraft crash. The team interviewed local informants but obtained no information related to this case. Additional information from the Vietnamese Government on the (Dec 1986) repatriated remains indicated they were recovered in another location, Thai Long Village, Yen Son District.
Colonel Begleys remains (13 bones) were ultimately identified in 1994 (28 years MIA) and interred in Arlington. Colonel Burriss N, Begley (Red) was buried with full honors, including a fly by of F-15s, in section 60, grave 7141, in Arlington
National Cemetery, on 4 Oct 1996.
Welcome home my hero and my brother. Rest in Peace