Henry Charles Barrows – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force

HENRY C. BARROWS Captain – United States Air Force

Shot Down December 19, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973

“I was born on September 9, 1946, in Bremerhaven, West Germany. My family emigrated to the United States in September 1958 and I became an American citizen in 1962. I lived in Westfield, New Jersey  until mid-1968. By that time I had graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in German Languages and Literature. In June, Christine and I were married. We now have a family of four, which includes the two of us, a son Geoffrey, who is 2, and our dog, Dusty.

“The Air Force and I met in January 1969 at Lackland AFB, Texas, where I attended Officers Training School. I was commissioned in March and was sent to Mather Air Force Base, California for navigator training. After receiving my wings, I remained there to attend electronic warfare officer training. My first operational assignment took me to the 16th SOS at Ubon, Thailand, where for the year 1971 I flew 120 missions in the AC-130 gunship over Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. From the I went to the 99th Bomb Wing at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

“In September 1972 I returned to Southeast Asia to fly B-52's. I flew about 50 missions before our crew was shot down early in the morning of December 19, 1972, and my life changed. We had just released our bombs on a communication complex on the outskirts of Hanoi when we were struck by a surface to air missile (SAM). Due to an uncontrollable fire I had to eject from  38,000  feet. After 1  hour on the ground 5 miles from Hanoi I was captured by  peasants and militia and transported as a “prize”  into town.  I received minor medical treatment for burns, shrapnel wounds and scrapes, and was then taken to the “Hilton” complex. That  night I was taken to a press  conference where the world saw me as a talking nose, moustache and head bandage. I was tired and frightened.

“For the next 101 days I existed on turnip and cabbage soup pork fat, bread and water. Amidst the hours of boredom,  anxiety,  card games and bull sessions we started a German class in what we called the Hanoi Chapter of the University of Maryland Extension Division. Attendance was  100%  and I must confess  all my students received good grades.

“While at “The Zoo” on January 24, 1973 I learned unofficially of the peace treaty  from a Vietnamese  repairman and the news was greeted with both relief and scepticism. Eventually on March 29, 1973 I was released. Stepping into the C-141 1 had the biggest lump ever in my throat when I saw the American Flag after what seemed like ages. From there it was an exciting journey home culminating in a gigantic reunion at Westover Ait Force Base on April Fool's Day (my wife was worried, I wasn't).

“The future will most likely find me in the Air Force at first flying and perhaps eventually as a German instructor at the Academy.

“Perhaps what has had the greatest effect on me is the lesson of man's fellowship in times of anguish.  We had to live together and comfort each other and we did. While we may have been selfish before this was not the time. Keeping faith in yourself and y our fellow man is a wonderful experience. I learned this lesson the hard way and I did not leave it in Hanoi. If the world could practice fellowship without the noose of hardship we will have a better world. This I believe.”

Henry Barrows retired from the the United States Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Hank Barrows, United States Air Force, had a fatal heart attack 22 February 2002 at their home in Washington, D.C.

Hank was shot down during the Christmas bombing in 1972 as a B-52 crewmember.

Hank and Suzanne were comparative newly-weds having been married on 7 April, 2001.

Hank passed a stress EKG with flying colors on 20 December. He was 55 years old.

His funeral was at Arlington National Cemetery, Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer on Thursday, 28 February, 2002. His funeral was attended by surviving members of his crew and the son of the tail gunner, as well as many other POW returnees and River Rats. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and his sons, Geoff and Brian.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/09/1946
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/11/2002


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