SYNOPSIS: On February 5, 1973, about a week after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement, an EC47Q aircraft was shot down over Saravane Province, Laos, about 50 miles east of the city of Saravane. The crew of the aircraft consisted of the pilot, Capt. George R. Spitz; co-pilot, 2Lt. Severo J. Primm III, Capt. Arthur R. Bollinger, 1Lt. Robert E. Bernhardt, Sgt. Dale Brandenburg, Sgt. Joseph A. Matejov, all listed as crew members, and Sgt. Peter R. Cressman and SSgt. Todd M. Melton, both systems operators. The families of all aboard the aircraft were told the men were dead, and advised to conduct memorial services.
It is known that Cressman and Matejov were members of Detachment 3, 6994th Security Squadron from Ubon, Thailand. The aircraft, however, was flying out of the 361st TEW Squadron (Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron) at Nakhon Phanom Airbase, Thailand. Primm, Melton, Spitz, Brandenburg and Bernhardt were assigned to the 361st TEW Squadron. Bollinger's unit is unknown.
The men in the 6994th were highly trained and operated in the greatest of secrecy. They were not allowed to mingle with others from their respective bases, nor were the pilots of the aircraft carrying them on their missions always told what their objective was. They were cryptology experts, language experts, and knew well how to operate some of the Air Force's most sophisticated equipment. They were the first to hear the enemy's battle plans.
Over five years later, Joe Matejov's mother, Mary Matejov, heard columnist Jack Anderson, on "Good Morning America", describe a Pathet Lao radio communique which described the capture of four "air pirates" on the same day as the EC47Q carrying her son was shot down. NO OTHER PLANE WAS MISSING THAT DAY. Anderson's information indicated that reconnaissance personnel had 40 uninterrupted minutes in which to survey the crash site.
The report of the reconnaissance team, which was not provided to the families for over five years, showed that three bodies, which were thought to have been higher ranking officers because of the seating arrangement, were found strapped in seats. Four of the men aboard the aircraft were not in or around the aircraft, and the partial remains of the eighth man (Bernhardt) was recovered. No identification was brought out from the crash site, and no attempt was made to recover the three bodies from the downed aircraft. It is assumed that the reconnaissance team was most interested in recovering the sensitive equipment aboard the EC47Q. The EC47Q became known as the "Flying Pueblo". Most of the "kids" in back, as
some pilots called them, were young, in good health, and stood every chance of surviving captivity.
There were specific reports intercepted regarding the four missing men from the aircraft missing on February 5, 1973. Radio reports indicated that the four were transported to the North Vietnam border. None were released in the general POW release beginning the next month.
Prepared by Ralph McClintock
Copyright © 2010 USS PUEBLO Veteran's Association. All rights reserved.
Name: Dale Brandenburg
Rank/Branch: E4/US Air Force
Unit: 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron
Date of Birth: 11 November 1948
Home City of Record: Capitol Heights MD
Date of Loss: 05 February 1973
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 153755N 1065957E (YC143291)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action/Killed In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Arthur R. Bollinger; Todd M. Melton; George R. Spitz; Severo J. Primm III; Peter R. Cressman; Joseph Matejov (all missing); Robert E. Bernhardt (remains recovered)
EC47Q "Flying Pueblo" Call Sign - Baron Five Two
Provided by Ralph McClintock
The "Flying Pueblo"