Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Ralph Wayne Brower, Captain, USAF (KIA)November 24, 1939 – November 09, 1967
On November 9, 1967, an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant (tail number 66-13279) with a crew of four, Capt. Gerald Young, with flight crew consisting of Capt. Ralph Brower, co-pilot; SSGT Eugene Clay, flight engineer; and SGT Larry Maysey, rescue specialist took off on a rescue mission in Saravane Province, Laos. The Jolly Green Giant was the second of two helicopters responding to an emergency call made by a reconnaissance team that had suffered heavy casualties. The first helicopter successfully extracted all the team except for two wounded men. This Jolly Green Giant picked up these last two men, SP4 Joseph G. Kusick and MSGT Bruce R. Baxter, but was hit by ground fire after liftoff, crashed, and burned. The helicopter’s pilot survived the incident and was rescued, but the other occupants died in the crash. A recovery team reached the crash site later that day and found several sets of remains, but poor weather and enemy forces prevented helicopters from successfully extracting the bodies they found. Continued hostile presence in the area precluded further recovery efforts, and the remaining five men who were aboard the Jolly Green Giant are still unaccounted for.
Captain Ralph Wayne Brower, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Ohio, was a member of the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. He was the co-pilot aboard the Jolly Green Giant when it went down, and was one of the men lost during the crash. Further attempts to recover his remains have been unsuccessful. Today, Captain Brower is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.