Bruce Charles WalkerCaptain
20TH TAC AIR SUPPORT SQDN, 504TH TACG, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
22 November 1946 - 07 January 1980
Panel 02W Line 133
The database page for Bruce Charles Walker
After more than 30 years, I still have in my possession the POW/MIA bracelet that bears your name. Thank you for giving your life for me and our country so that we may continue to enjoy freedom. Although I never knew you, I pray that somehow you will know that you and your comrades will never be forgotten. May God bless your soul.
A Note from The Virtual WallOn 30 March 1972 the North Vietnamese Army began a massive, 3-pronged invasion of South Vietnam. Since virtually all US combat troops had been withdrawn, the United States could only provide air and naval gunfire support to the beleaguered South Vietnamese forces. On 02 April a B-52 bombing mission was directed against NVA forces in Quang Tri Province just below the DMZ. The B-52s were escorted by two EB-66 electronic warfare aircraft, BAT 21 and BAT 22. Although the NVA fired two dozen SA-2 missiles at the B-52s and EB-66s, there was only one hit - BAT 21. As the EB-66 broke up, one man parachuted from it - LtCol Iceal Hambleton ... and so began one of the largest search and rescue efforts of the war, conducted in the midst of some 45,000 NVA troops. After 11 days on the ground LtCol Hambleton was rescued by a two-man SEAL team (one US Navy, one RVN Navy). Before that happened, a number of US aircraft and aircrew had been lost in the SAR effort.
On 07 April a USAF OV-10A (tail number 68-3820) flown by Captain Bruce C. Walker, USAF, with Captain Larry F. Potts, USMC, as his artillery spotter, was shot down 3 miles northwest of Dong Ha. Like Hambleton, Walker evaded capture for 11 days; unlike Hambleton, his last radio transmission to SAR forces was to not make a rescue attempt as the enemy was closing in. There are reports that Captain Potts was captured and died in Quang Binh prison. Both men remain unaccounted for.
LtCol Hambleton wrote BAT 21 about his experience; it was turned into a movie, and more recently Darrel Whitcomb, one of the FACs involved in the effort, has written The Rescue of BAT 21, published by the Naval Institute Press.
The Virtual Wall memorial for Captain Robin Gatwood has a summary of what happened during the BAT 21 episode and a listing of the US aircraft and airmen who were lost. Something to remember - none of the twenty men who died trying to rescue BAT 21's sole survivor knew LtCol Hambleton. All they knew was that one of their own was on the ground ... and that was enough.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 Oct 2007
Last updated 04/07/2011