Captain Hugh “Mac” McNeil Byrd, Jr. Remembrance Day

POW☆ MIA Remembrance Day and Wreath Laying Ceremony
50th Anniversary of Date Last Seen
Captain Hugh “Mac” McNeil Byrd, Jr. US Army
220th Aviation Company, 212th Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade “Catkillers”
Date of Birth: 22 October 1943 Pueblo CO
Home City of Record: Berea KY
Date last seen: Jan. 9 ,1969 Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam

“As a community we can never forget about the ones we left behind on the battlefield. Your primary  mission at Rolling Thunder is to remember. We are honored that we have the opportunity to bring  awareness to the public so they know we will never forget the sacrifice,” said Todd Matonich, a United  States Navy Veteran and Board Member at Rolling Thunder
​ ®
​ , Inc. Kentucky Chapter 5.

On 9 January 1969, Capt. Hugh Byrd, pilot, and 1st Lt. Kevin O’Brien, observer, comprised the crew of a Cessna O1G Bird Dog on a visual reconnaissance mission over Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. Their mission was to search out and identify enemy targets for Kevin O’Brien’s artillery battery at Khe Sanh to fire upon. During the mission, the Bird Dog was diverted from its primary mission to assist a ground reconnaissance team locked in battle with an enemy force of unknown size in the rugged jungle covered mountains near Khe Sanh. After assisting the team by providing additional targets for the artillery battery, another Forward Air Controller arrived on station.

Hugh Byrd and Kevin O’Brien began their return flight to Hue/Phu Bai Airfield located approximately 60 miles from Khe Sanh. By 1940 hours, weather conditions deteriorated along their flight path to the point Capt. Byrd radioed he was not sure of their position because the Bird Dog was not equipped for instrument flight. Further, he reported they were flying at an altitude of 3000 feet and were also low on fuel. Several radar stations tried, but were unable to get a definite fix on its position. However, they were able to maintain constant radio contact with the aircrew. Based on the direction of flight, the primary radar operator advised Capt. Byrd to climb to greater altitude because of rugged mountains peaks in the area the aircraft was believed in. At that point no further transmissions were heard. It was believed that
the plane went down in extremely rugged, heavily forested mountains approximately 9 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Laos border. Search and rescue operations were initiated at first light, but were broken off after a few days due to poor weather conditions. They resumed once the weather cleared, but again failed to locate any trace of the aircraft or its crew. Their remains have never been recovered.

​On Saturday, January 5th, Rolling Thunder KY 5 will lay a Wreath in a short ceremony to remember                                     Captain Byrd. We encourage the public to join us in remembering and honoring those who never returned. The major  function of Rolling Thunder, Inc. is to publicize and create awareness of the POW*MIA issue. For further  information about Rolling Thunder, KY 5 and its mission, please go to ​www.rollingthunderky5.org​.  # # # ​Follow us on Facebook : @Rolling Thunder Inc ® KY 5  Rolling Thunder​®​, Inc KY 5, is based in Lexington, Kentucky, and is recognized as a 501(C)(4), all-volunteer,  non-profit organization created to remember and honor the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Service Members.

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