Brothers recall Navy aviator MIA
MADELIA – The brothers of a Madelia Navy Flight Officer missing in action (MIA) over Laos since 1969 recalled their memories of him and following search efforts Friday at the dedication of the Madelia Veterans KIA/MIA Memorial.
Commander Brian E. Quinn was flying over Laos on Saturday, Nov. 22, 1969, in an A-6A Intruder (lightweight bomber) for VA-196 off the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ranger, CVW-2, when the airplane crashed over land.
Commander L.W. Richards was picked up during search and rescue efforts. The other three crewmen, Quinn, Lieutenant Commander Richard F. Collins and Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard C. Deuter disappeared into the jungles of Savannakhet Province, according to the account of another A-6A crewman, Ken Davis, in his memorial addendum posted on the virtualwall.org.
According to a note from The Virtual Wall, Richards and Deuter were flying as lead in a section of two A6A Intruders, against a target near Tavous in southern Laos. Richards rolled in on the target and released his weapons, but as he pulled out of the dive bombing delivery, the wing structure failed and the aircraft disintegrated in flight. Richards was picked up about a half hour later. Deuter apparently went in with the aircraft.
In a separate incident, Collins and Quinn were conducting a night armed reconnaissance mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail further north. A second A-6A was operating at some distance behind. The crew of the second plane sighted a large fireball near Ban Tampanko, Laos. There was no radio contact with either crewman. Search and rescue efforts failed to locate crew or aircraft and they have not been found since, according to the website note.
“He liked driving fast. He had a red, 1961 Ford Galaxy convertible,” Tom Quinn of Mankato said of his brother Michael. “When he flew from Minneapolis to Seattle in 1969, he buzzed Madelia in his A-6A on the way, rattling windows in town.”
Retired Catholic Priest Fr. Charlie Quinn of Sherburn said he donated blood for search and rescue efforts that included trying to make a DNA match with his brother in Laos, but as of yet, that has not happened.
Charlie Quinn gave the invocation Friday at the memorial dedication.
“We keep thinking of the gifts of love and service these men (KIA killed in action/MIA) gave to one another and to the rest of us,” Quinn said.
“All gave some, some gave all. This park is dedicated to those who gave all to the nation,” said Vietnam Veteran Bruce Young in his remarks.
“I’ve been to Iraq three times and to Afghanistan once, but only for a few days, nothing like the troops that spend months and years there,” said Gov. Mark Dayton in his address. “I’ve been to Normandy Beach and saw the German bunkers buried in the hillside. I can’t imagine what it was like going into that hellfire. I saw the nearby cemetery with 19,000 white crosses.”
Gloria Eager of Madelia thanked the memorial committee for all its work on the community project that began in 2005. The organization has raised more than $110,000 for the memorial and perpetual care. To date, 575 pavers have been installed on walkways to the memorial, listing names, service dates, branches and other information about the men and women who served our country. A peace pole highlights the fact that those who serve are keeping peace in our country and throughout the world.
KIA/MIA Memorial names listed on pavers in the park are John B. Ellingsberg, Harold T. Mitchell, Harold Baker, Malcolm A. Chase, Orin E. Christenson, Lloyd Franke, Bob Frauenholtz, Claire Madson, Harold E. Mitchell, George E. Ogle, John D. Osborne, Perry E. Pederson, John Schuetz, John G. Seymour, Richard C. Splinter, Aloysious Thul, Wayne Mutsch, Milton Kelsey, Michael E. Quinn and Emilio Campo Jr.
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.