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 Hugh McNeil Byrd, Jr

Photo added by Nita Byrd Lumpkin

Hugh McNeil Byrd, Jr

  • Birth 22 Oct 1943 Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado, USA
  • Death 9 Jan 1969 Quang Tri, Quang Tri, Vietnam
  • Burial Berea, Madison County, Kentucky, USA
  • Memorial ID 8206542

Hugh McNeil Byrd Jr

Home of Record: Berea, KY
Date of birth: 10/22/1943

Service: Army of the United States
Grade at loss: O3
Rank: Captain
ID No: 402580189
MOS: 1980: Fixed Wing Aviation Unit Commander
Length Service: **

Start Tour: ------
Casualty Date: 01/11/1974
Incident Date: 01/09/1969
Age at Loss: 30
Location: Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body not recovered
Casualty Type: Non-hostile, died while missing
Casualty Reason: Fixed Wing - Pilot
ON THE WALL Panel 35W Line 058


Hugh Byrd and Kevin O'Brien began a return flight to Hue/Phu Bai Airfield located approximately 60 miles to the east-southeast of 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 to get a fix on the Bird Dog, including the one at Dong Ha, 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 from either Hugh Byrd or Kevin O'Brien. It was believed that the O1G went down in extremely rugged, heavily forested mountains approximately 9 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 14 miles southeast of Khe Sanh and 44 miles east-southeast of their base.

Search and rescue (SAR) 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. At the time formal search efforts were terminated, Hugh Byrd and Kevin O'Brien were listed Missing In Action.

In August 1975 a refugee reported seeing 2 downed US aircraft in the general area where the Bird Dog vanished. He described one as an F5 jet and the other one as an L19. He was told that two Americans on the L19 were killed and buried 1 kilometer from the crash. However, he was unable to provide information on the exact location of the burial site. The Army feels this report could possibly relate to this loss incident because the O1 was formerly known as the L19. If Capt. Byrd and 1st Lt. O'Brien died in the loss of their aircraft as indicated in this second hand report, then the Vietnamese know where their remains are located and could return them to their families, friends and country any time they chose to. However, if Hugh Byrd and Kevin O'Brien survived the loss of their aircraft, their fate, like that other Americans unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

  • Created by: Paul McCracken
  • Added: 25 Dec 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8206542
  • Glenn Lee LaRocque
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Hugh McNeil Byrd, Jr (22 Oct 1943–9 Jan 1969), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8206542, citing Berea Cemetery, Berea, Madison County, Kentucky, USA ; Maintained by Paul McCracken (contributor 46596518) .