Francis Barnes MidnightCaptain
435TH TAC FTR SQDN, 8TH TFW, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
11 July 1939 - 23 August 1967
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The database page for Francis Barnes Midnight
I wore Captain Midnight's bracelet for many years, hoping that I would see his name among those returning. I never did. Time passed and I eventually put the bracelet away and forgot about it until my five-year-old grandson found it recently. I never knew until now what happened to the Captain. It seems like such a long time ago but then, as I was telling my grandson the significance of the bracelet, it seems like only yesterday.
I was a back-seat pilot with Frank's squadron, the 435th TFS out of Ubon. Our squadron had just deployed to Ubon and were flying our first combat missions. I particularly remember Frank's incident, since I was flying in the next two-ship night armed recce flight from Ubon. When we checked in with ABCCC we were informed that there was an aircraft down and given a location about 20 miles north of the DMZ. It was easy to find; there was still a large fire burning where the aircraft had impacted.
We soon established radio contact with the back-seat pilot, 1/Lt. Silva (I believe that his first name was Albert). There was no radio contact with Frank. Lt Silva was very uncomfortable hanging with his parachute snagged in a tree. Our flight stayed on station with several recycles to the tanker. The flight leader was a Major Heckrotte, an experienced night fighter from the 497th "Night Owls" and my A/C, Captain Jon Druhl, was flying number two and crewed with an experienced 497th GIB.
At first light the Sandys and then the Jollies were on scene. There was some enemy activity and I remember some CBU-2 munitions being laid down to keep the bad guys away. But the rescue went off without any serious problems.
I do recall Lt. Silva saying something to the effect that the aircraft seemed out of control at low altitude and Frank gave the order to eject. He immediately ejected and said that he swung once in his parachute and immediately was snagged in the tree. Based upon that report and the lack of any communication with Frank, we concluded that he probably had not survived the crash.
From a friend,
A Note from The Virtual WallThe following is taken from the POW Network:
"When Frank B. Midnight graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1964, he went on to pilot training at Webb Air Force Base in Texas. It was not long before he was assigned to Vietnam as an F-4 pilot.
Hobson's Vietnam Air Losses concurs with the above account and identifies the aircraft as F-4D tail number 66-7517 and the "guy in back" as 1stLt A. M. Silva.
Captain Midnight's remains have not been repatriated.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 10 Feb 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009