WOODS, BRIAN DUNSTAN
Name: Brian Dunstan Woods
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 97, USS CONSTELLATION (CVA 64)
Date of Birth: 23 March 1932 (FAB Coco Solo, Canal Zone, Panama)
Home City of Record: San Diego CA
Date of Loss: 18 September 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 183200N 1054100E (WF721491)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: (none 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: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS CONSTELLATION provided air power to the U.S. effort in
Vietnam early in the war, having participated in strikes against Loc Chao
and Hon Gai in North Vietnam during August 1964. One of the first American
POWs of the war, and certainly one of the most well-known, LTJG Everett
Alverez, launched from her decks and was captured during this series of
strikes in 1964. The CONSTELLATION was large and carried a full range of
aircraft. Fighters from her air wing, CVW-14, earned the carrier the
Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1968 during a particularly intense period
of air attacks. VF-96, a premier fighter squadron awarded the Clifton Trophy
two straight years, flew from the CONSTELLATION in October 1971. During this
period, two of her pilots, LT Randall H. Cunningham and LTJG William
"Willie" Driscoll became the first American aces of the Vietnam War, having
shot down five Russian-made MiG enemy aircraft. The CONSTELLATION remained
on station throughout most of the war.
One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the USS CONSTELLATION was the
Vought A7 Corsair II. The Corsair was a single-seat attack jet utilized by
both the Navy and Air Force in Vietnam. The aircraft was designed to meet
the Navy's need for a subsonic attack plane able to carry a greater load of
non-nuclear weapons that the A4 Skyhawk. The aircraft's unique design
completely freed the wingspace for bomb loading; the Pratt and Whitney jet
engine was beneath the fuselage of the aircraft. The Corsair was used
primarily for close air support and interdiction, although it was also used
for reconnaissance. A Corsair is credited with flying the last official
combat mission in the war - bombing a target in Cambodia on 15 August 1973.
LTCDR Brian D. Woods was an A7A pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 97 onboard
the USS CONSTELLATION. On September 18, 1968, Woods launched in his A7A
aircraft as one of a five-plane strike mission. As the strike group retired
from the target area a few miles south of the city of Vinh, LTCDR Woods'
aircraft was not seen when the group reformed.
Woods' aircraft disappeared over Ha Tinh Province. A crewmember of another
aircraft approximately ten miles from the target area reported having seen
an aircraft that had been hit, burst into flames and continue in a steep
dive until it impacted the ground. the burning aircraft was observed on the
ground and an emergency radio beeper signal was then heard for approximately
20 seconds. This beep, commencing within two minutes of the crash, was
estimated to originate from an area just east of the crash site. No
parachute was observed at any time. Attempts to establish voice contact with
Woods was met with negative results. The area in which LTCDR Woods went down
is a densely populated area allowing almost no possibility of evading
On September 18th and 19th, foreign propaganda broadcasts alluded to the
shooting down of an aircraft over North Vietnam. It was later confirmed that
Woods had safely ejected the aircraft and was captured almost immediately,
which precluded him from making any further contact on his emergency
LTCDR Woods was placed in a casualty status of Missing in action on
September 18, 1968. This status was changed to Captured on January 14, 1969.
He was repatriated as a Prisoner of War in the Hanoi prisoner exchange
called "Operation Homecoming" on February 12, 1973. During the years of his
captivity he had been promoted to the rank of Commander.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless
all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of
our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's
time we brought our men home.
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
BRIAN D. WOODS
Commander- United States Navy
Shot Down: September 18, 1968
Released: February 12, 1973
Commander Brian D. Woods was the first POW to come home after the Vietnam
cease fire. His mother lay dying in the hospital - having been ill during most
of his imprisonment. This was the only reason he agreed to return first - she
was actually dying.
Upon his return, Commander Woods said, "We are grateful and overwhelmed. We
are proud to be Americans. We are proud to have served our country and our
Commander Woods enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1950. He was called to active
duty in 1951 and had his first assignment as an Aviation Ordanceman. After the
tour in VS 661 he attended the Naval Academy Prep School at Bainbridge,
Maryland, after which he completed his education at the Naval Academy and
On September 18, 1968 while flying a combat mission from the U.S.S.
Constellation, his A-7A was shot down by the North Vietnamese in the vicinity
of Vinh, North Vietnam. He was captured right there, on the spot.
When Commander Woods arrived at Clark, he telephoned his wife, Paula, and
their three children, Cathleen, 9; Christopher, 8; and Michael, 7. (They
sponsor a foster child in Thailand in a leper colony-13 year old Voran ju J
iamvisut). When the telephone rang Michael grabbed the phone and cried, "Hi
Daddy. I love you. This is Michael. I'm seven now." He was two when his Daddy
was deployed. When asked what the family would do when they got him back, they
replied, "Love him. Just love him!"
A note from Mrs. Brian Woods: We would like to adopt Voranju - she is an
orphan, but does have family and a grandparent there, so we sponsor her,
instead. We started this when she was 8 1/2 years because we needed to
substitute love for the love we had been deprived of, without giving up
waiting for Brian. We reached out to a needy child, half-way around the world,
and, through her, God poured out his merciful, healing balm to our family. Now
that Brian is home, we are awaiting our own fourth child, at the prime of our
lives and can close the chapter of our family memories, by a whole new
P.S. Voranju is a baptized Methodist in a Presbyterian Leprosy Rehabilitation
Center; and we are all Roman Catholic. We did not, actually, intend to be
ecumenical, but we sure are!!
Brian Woods retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He lives in
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