Donald Elliot Westbrook

United States Air Force
28 August 1926 - 27 April 1978
Sherman, Texas
Panel 44E Line 043


USAF Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Donald Elliot Westbrook

21 Oct 2004

I have been wearing Donald Westbrook's POW/MIA bracelet since 1970. I have visited The Wall many times and have left notes and other items. I have never been able to contact his family, and know nothing about them. If they read this, I just want them to know that I care and I remember him. I have never removed his bracelet, and never will. I will pass this commitment on to my children and ask that they carry it after I am gone. Bless all of the missing. Forgive the US for not rescuing them.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The TSQ-81 radar was a high-resolution radar originally used to score practice bombing runs during traing - but with very slight modification it could be used equally well to guide bomb-dropping aircraft to a release position. Operating under disguise, the Air Force established LIMA SITE 85, a combination TSQ-81 and TACAN radio navigation site physically located near the top of a 5900 foot high mountain about 12 miles west of the Lao/North Vietnam border. Once operational (01 Nov 1967) LIMA 85 allowed aircraft not equipped for radar bombing to make accurate, ground-controlled bombing runs in northern Laos and North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese were well aware of LIMA 85's potential and determined that the site must be destroyed.

LIMA 85 was subjected to a massive ground attack on 11 March 1968 and the site was overrun and captured with the loss of 11 Americans. HQ 7th Air Force undertook to destroy the TSQ-81 radar and other physical facilities by air strike, and four A-1 Skyraiders from the 602nd ACS were sent on the morning of 13 March to do the job. By this time the NVA had consolidated their hold on the mountaintop and the Skyraiders were subjected to heavy fire. Although the strike was successful, one aircraft - A-1E 52-133888 flown by Major Donald E. Westbrook - was lost.

Westbrook was flying just below the summit - LIMA 85 was located on a lower outjutting plateau - when he was hit and his aircraft impacted the side of the mountain. Although there was no evidence that he survived the crash, Westbrook was classed as Missing in Action until the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of death on 27 April 1978. His remains have not been repatriated.

A-1 Skyraider
The 602nd Fighter Squadron was reactivated in 1964 at Bien Hoa Air Base in 1964 and endured several redesignations before it was deactivated on 31 Dec 1970. It first became the 602nd Fighter Commando Squadron, then it became the 602nd Air Commando Squadron, and on 01 Aug 1968 it was redesignated the 602nd Special Operations Squadron. The squadron's operating base changed even more frequently than its name; from Bien Hoa it went to Nha Trang for a brief period, thence to Udorn RTAFB, and finally in March 1968 moved to Nakon Phanom RTAFB. The squadron operated several versions of the A-1 Skyraider, providing strike and SAR support in South Vietnam and later in Laos. During its 6 years of service the squadron lost 80 aircraft and at least 38 pilots.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009