Name: Donald William Bruch, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 27 August 1941
Home City of Record: Montclair NJ
Date of Loss: 29 April 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213258N 1055100E (WJ880831)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident:
Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project.
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 D version was a single-place aircraft.
Eighty-six F-105Ds fitted with radar homing and warning gear formed the backbone of the Wild Weasel program, initiated in 1965 to improve the Air Force's electronic warfare capability. Upon pinpointing the radar at a missile site, the Wild Weasel attacked with Shrike missiles that homed on radar emissions. The versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25 Russian MiGs. Thirteen of these modified F's were sent to Southeast Asia in 1966.
On April 29, 1966, 1Lt. Donald W. Bruch Jr., was the pilot of an F105D sent on a combat mission over North Vietnam. As his aircraft was about 12 miles northeast of the city of Hanoi, it was struck by antiaircraft fire while making an attack on the target. Lt. Bruch was instructed to climb and as he did the aircraft went out of control, entered a steep dive, and crashed. No parachutes were seen and no beepers were heard. Donald Bruch was not recovered.
Public records available from the U.S. Air Force indicate only that 1Lt. Bruch was killed on April 29, 1966 on a combat mission. The Defense Intelligence Agency further refines the classification of Killed/Body Not Recovering by adding an enemy knowledge qualifier of Category, concluding that the enemy definitely knows his fate.
When the war ended, and 591 American Prisoners of War were released from communist prisons, Bruch was not among them. Military officials expressed their dismay that "hundreds" of suspected prisoners were not released. Then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the Vietnamese a list of these so-called "discrepancy cases" requesting further information and clarification. Inexplicably, 1Lt. Bruch's name did not appear on the list, and although evidence apparently exists to prove otherwise, the Vietnamese deny knowledge of 1Lt. Donald W. Bruch.
Since 1975, when American involvement ended in Southeast Asia, nearly 10,000 reports relating to the Missing and Prisoner in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many who have seen this classified information believe that hundreds of Americans remain alive in captivity today.
Although 1Lt. Bruch is evidently not among them, his death, as well as the deaths of nearly 60,000 young Americans can have no honor or meaning as long as even one American fighting man is abandoned to enemy hands. It's time we brought an end to the Vietnam war and brought our men home.