High School Wall of Honor
Gray Dawson Warren
Class of June, 1960
|Research done by Rick Nehrling, Class of 1963.|
|Gray Dawson Warren|
|Gray was a member of North High's class of June, 1960. While attending North High, Gray's next of kin are listed as Mr. and Mrs. Charles Warren, 4015 41st Street, Des Moines, IA. After graduation, he attended the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, graduating in 1965. At the time of death, Gray was married. His service number was 482504529. Gray's name is listed on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. on Panel 17W, Line 122.|
North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in South Vietnam,
they intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, just as they had done years
before during the war with the French. Just inside the Laotian border
along the length of the southern part of North Vietnam and the northern
and central part of South Vietnam, North Vietnam had constructed and
maintained a roadway. The roadway was called the "Ho Chi Minh Trail",
and it was used to transport troops, weapons, supplies, and equipment
from North Vietnam to South Vietnam to fight the war.
The border between Laos and North Vietnam has a mountain range separating the two countries. For the North Vietnamese to get troops and supplies onto the Ho Chi Minh Trail, they had to cross from North Vietnam into Laos through three main mountain passes, the Mu Gia, Bartholemy, and Ban Karai. As the war escalated, the North Vietnamese established substantial missile sites at these passes to try to stop US planes from attacking the convoys going through the passes toward the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The passes were also frequently used by US fighters as they flew from Thailand to Vietnam on bombing missions.
Captain Gray Dawson Warren's service in Vietnam started on October 26, 1969. He was assigned to the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon RTAFB, Thailand (Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand). That same day, Gray and First Lieutenant Neil S. Bynam were in an F-4D Phamtom (tail number 65-0751), call sign WOLF05) on a forward air control mission over Khammouane Province, Laos, along the Ho Chi Minh Trail near the Ban Karai Pass.
During this mission, they located construction equipment, including a bulldozer, on a road about 15 miles west of the DMZ, near the village of Ban Son. They made two passes over the bulldozer. On the third pass, a low angle pass, they hit the bulldozer with a pod of high explosive 5" Zuni rockets, destroying the bulldozer. After they fired their rockets, Gray's plane failed to pull up, and the plane impacted the ground approximately 100 meters upslope from the bulldozer. The plane exploded on impact, scattering wreckage over a 400 meter area. The coordinates of the crash are XE212041.
Other forward air control aircraft in the area witnessed the attack on the bulldozer and the impact of Gray's plane. Those aircraft immediately initiated search and rescue operations. Although no enemy fire had been encountered before Gray's plane attacked the bulldozer, the other forward air control aircraft received small arms and 37mm antiaircraft fire. After two hours, with no visual signs of survivors, the search was terminated.
Both Gray and First Lieutenant Neil Stanley Bynum (rank changed to Captain during the period he was classified as Missing) were intially classified as Missing in Action. During an annual review of their status, the view board did not find any evidence that either man escaped the aircraft, and Gray Warren was reclassified as Killed in Action on October 26, 1969. His body was not recovered. NOTE: Records obtained by the North High Class of 1960 obituary historian indicate Gray's remains are interred at the US Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO. He lies in Section MEM, Row K, Plot 008.
For more details on his military career: http://taskforceomegainc.org/W081.htm
SYNOPSIS: The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
On 26 October 1969, Capt. Gray D. Warren, pilot and 1st Lt. Neil S. Bynum, co-pilot; comprised the crew of an F4D, call sign "Wolf 05," that departed Ubon Airfield, Thailand on an armed Forward Air Controller (FAC) mission near the Ban Karai Pass. This area of eastern Laos was considered a major gateway into the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.
Approximately 35 minutes into the flight, they contacted another FAC, call sign "Nail 30," who was working a target along Route 912 on the side of a hill where the terrain rises south to north. Nail 30 was waiting for ordnance to arrive on station when Capt. Warren contacted him and requested permission to fire at a bulldozer. Permission was granted and the pilot of Stormy 01, a third aircraft operating under the overall control of Nail 30, marked the target, then gave Wolf 05 corrected coordinates from his mark to bulldozer. Capt. Warren acknowledged the new information and said he was "going in on the target." The other pilots observed Gray Warren and Neil Bynum rolling in on target from south to north on a run-in alignment along the rise in terrain, firing a pod of high incendiary rockets at the bulldozer and hitting it, then impacting the ground about 100 meters above it. The large fireball was easily seen as well as aircraft wreckage scattered as much as 300 meters from the first point of impact.
Search and Recovery (SAR) operations were initiated at 0630 hours. When no contact could be established with the downed aircrew, those efforts were terminated at 0745 due to no valid SAR objectives. The location of loss was in the rugged, jungle-covered mountains approximately 2 miles northeast of Ban Lobey and 4 miles southwest of the Laos/North Vietnamese border, Khammouan Province, Laos; and 33 miles southwest of the major port city of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam.
The weather was good, and up until Wolf 05 rolled in on the bulldozer, there had been no enemy ground fire directed at the various American aircraft. However, after the crash small arms fire was seen by Nail 30 and Stormy 01, and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire was reported by the SAR aircraft. Both Gray Warren and Neil Bynum were immediately listed Missing in Action. The National Security Agency (NSA) regularly monitored enemy communications throughout Southeast Asia. They intercepted a communiqué, which they correlated to Wolf 05. They stated one pilot parachuted from the aircraft and was probably captured. Gray Warren and Neil Bynum are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.:
|Deceased: Died: KIA; October 26, 1969.|
|Music: "Ballad of the Green Beret"|
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