Bruce Carlton FryarLieutenant
VA-196, CVW-2, USS RANGER
United States Navy
28 March 1944 - 28 June 1974
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Panel 15W Line 118
The database page for Bruce Carlton Fryar
As it happened, I knew Bruce long before we joined VA-196. Bruce and I were both in the Chapel Choir and Glee Club at the Naval Academy, so were able to get to know each other. I remember that Bruce's family took great pains to show the Glee Club members a good time during a pre-Christmas tour that brought us to his home town in New Jersey. Bruce graduated in 1966, a year ahead of me, so I did not see him again until arriving at Whidbey in early 1968 for training. Bruce was a pilot, and arrived at Whidbey about the same time with his wife Diane and their infant daughter.
My son was born a short time after we arrived on the island, so our families naturally spent a lot of time together comparing notes and experiences on babies and the joys of living on Whidbey. Those who were there at the time will remember that the area did not exactly have a lot in the way of big-city entertainment (the only movie theater in town closed in mid-1968). The remoteness of the area, plus the effects of the war, made for a tight-knit community.
Bruce completed his A-6 RAG training about the same time I did (early 1969) and we were both slated to go to the same squadron (VA-196), which had just returned from a punishing deployment that had seen the loss of several planes and their crews. Bruce had talked with me about flying as his B/N, but I was already "spoken for" and was paired with LT Kenn "Yogi Bear" Brooks. Bruce teamed with a classmate of his, Nick Brooks , when they joined VA-196.
VA-196 deployed to Vietnam in late 1969 as part of Air Wing TWO on the USS Ranger. We arrived at Yankee Station in November, and lost two aircraft almost immediately on the same day (November 22, 1969) over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in central Laos. Only one of the four crewmen was recovered. After this shock, we settled down to the tedious hard work of daily flights over the Trail. As the weeks went by, the NVN Army moved more and more anti-aircraft artillery into the passes leading from North Vietnam and along the many roads headed south through Laos. On January 2, 1970, Bruce and his B/N, Nick Brooks, were shot down on an interdiction mission along the Trail in the Mu Gia Pass area, reportedly on a dive bombing run. Observers saw two parachutes, indicating that both crewmen had successfully ejected. A short time later, a SAR helicopter crewman spotted an unconscious flier who he later identified as Bruce, but was unable to attach a recovery line before the helo was driven off by heavy enemy fire. Although we ran SAR operations for several days, neither Nick or Bruce was recovered. Although Nick's remains were eventually returned home, Bruce was never seen or heard from again, and was officially listed as MIA.
I think the most telling thing that could be told about Bruce was something I never knew until just a few months ago. After many years I was able to locate and contact my former pilot, Kenn "Yogi Bear" Brooks. We were able to spend some time together and talked about Nick, Bruce, and others who had been lost on that cruise. Kenn told me that Bruce had confided in him that he did not expect to survive the cruise. Nonetheless, Kenn talked of his deep admiration for Bruce, who despite this premonition had the consummate courage to climb into his aircraft every day and face combat.
From a friend and squadronmate,
I bought it about 10 years ago at the Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. I always wondered what happened to him. It's nice to be able to put a face with it every time I look at it.
Thank You for your sacrifice.
Notes from The Virtual WallThe 22 Nov 1969 incidents mentioned above involved the loss of two aircraft and three of four crewmen:
"Two Intruders were dispatched on a raid on a storage dump near the Mu Gia Pass in southern Laos under the control of a USAF FAC. As LT Fryar made his second 40 degree dive on the target the aircraft was seen to explode at about 5400 feet and the starboard wing separated from the aircraft. Two good parachutes were seen by both the FAC and the other Intruder crew. . . . One of the crew was seen lying on the ground still attached to his parachute. A pararescueman was lowered to the ground and tried to attach a hoist to the airman, who was identified as LT Fryar and was apparently dead, but heavy ground fire forced the helicopter away and the pararescueman only just escaped with his life. . . . Encroaching darkness put an end to further rescue attempts that day . . ."When SAR efforts began again at dawn on 03 Jan LT Fryar's body and parachute had been removed. Although intermittent emergency radio "beeper" signals were heard, no contact of any kind was made with LT Brooks. Both men were classed as Missing in Action.
On 03 Feb 1982, Nicholas Brooks' remains were repatriated, with positive identification announced on 04 Mar 1982. At his family's request, his remains were buried at sea on March 25, 1982.
Bruce Fryar's remains have not been repatriated.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
a friend and squadron mate,
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 11 Aug 2003
Last updated 11/19/2006