The Long Journey Home
AIR FORCE MAJOR
By Rob e rt Rehde r | Fami ly Photos Courte s y of Sus an Brown La a kmann
WILMINGTON lost 20 sons in the Vietnam War. They were Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen. They
were athletes, musicians, lifeguards and fishermen. They were much-loved husbands, sons, fathers and
Many went into military service after graduating from New Hanover High School. Some, like Ronnie
Brown, went on to college. To those who knew them, they might have seemed just ordinary men, and yet through
extraordinary courage they gave their lives.
Air Force Major Ronnie Brown’s story is quite different from the others. His family suffered perhaps the worst tragedy
of all when, for decades during and after the war, he was Missing in Action (MIA).
The Fairchild C-123 Provider was a short-range assault transport aircraft with the ability to use short runways and unim-proved
landing strips in remote regions. It was used from 1962-1970 by the U.S. Air Force in Southeast Asia to transport
materials and passengers, personnel, equipment, parts and supplies including food, ammunition and medical supplies
during the war in Vietnam. When the planes could not land, their cargo was dropped.
PART I I I OF A MULTI-PART SERIES