COL John R Braddon was a potential VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 12/11/2009 at the age of 80.1 from Heart disease
Fairfax County, VA
Date of Birth 10/19/1929
Served in the U.S. Marine Corps
Served in Vietnam with HMM-162, HMM-363
This information was provided by Quang Pham

More detail on this person: My family is fortunate to have met Col. Braddon and to have had the opportunity to thank him in person. We last saw the Braddons in October 2008.

Services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday 1/26/10. We will be there to honor our hero.

I've attached a photo of Col. Braddon and I when we first met in January 2004, nearly 40 years after his heroic efforts. You may have seen the photo in my book. I had discovered his action after listening to a taped interview of my father then finding this web site which contains details of the Do Xa battle,

These were Col. Braddon's words at my book launch in California on April 12, 2005:

"On April 27, 1964, I witnessed a VNAF A-1H support a USMC helicopter assault into a heavily defended landing zone. The A-1 was hit and left the zone trailing smoke. Since I was the pilot of a helicopter designated to rescue downed crews, I chased the A-1 and caught up with it when it crash landed in a field about 10 miles west of Quang Ngai. My crew and I picked up the pilot and delivered him safely to Quang Ngai. The rest of the day and, indeed my tour in Vietnam were very busy and I forgot about the crashed A-1 and its pilot.

Forty years later Quang Pham contacted me and told me he was the son of the A-1 pilot and that he was a U. S. Marine and a Naval Aviator who had fought in the Gulf War. Quang and I made plans to meet and did so at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum in Northern Virginia. He accompanied me on a guided tour of the museum.

It was not until I met Quang that I found out that my rescue of his dad had a fundamental effect on the lives of his family and he has written of that in "A Sense of Duty." I do not deserve great credit for my action. Years before USMC helicopter squadrons supporting Vietnamese units had decided to set aside helicopters to rescue downed crews and that is why I was prepared to rescue Lt. Hoa. Also, Lt. Hoa was supporting Marines. In that capacity he came under the umbrella that "Marines take care of their own." However briefly, he supported us and became one of us and we made sure he was cared for. I am grateful that I have come to meet his family and to honor his service."

Semper Fidelis, John Braddon, and may you rest in peace.

Quang Pham

John Rendall Braddon, 80; decorated Marine pilot

By Patricia Sullivan. Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, December 30, 2009; B05 cle/2009/12/29/AR2009122903036.html

John Rendall Braddon, 80, a Marine pilot whose 1964 rescue of downed helicopter crews in Vietnam resulted in the award of the Silver Star medal, died Dec. 11 of heart disease at Capital Hospice in Arlington. He lived in Fairfax County.

Col. Braddon, then a major, was maintenance officer of a Marine helicopter squadron and was assigned to pilot one of the rescue units during the U.S. military insertion of more than 400 South Vietnamese soldiers into the Viet Cong stronghold of Do Xa in the country's central highlands.

The April 27, 1964, operation was just underway when a South Vietnamese air force fighter pilot, Pham Van Hoa, crashed and became trapped in his burning aircraft. Maj. Braddon landed under heavy fire, dashed to Pham's A-1 Skyraider and dragged Pham to the Marine helicopter, which had been damaged. He then flew Pham to safety in Quang Ngai. The Marine returned to the battle and landed his helicopter to evacuate the crew of a U.S. helicopter that had crashed in the same vicinity.

"We took a lot of fire and our bird had many holes," then-Maj. Braddon later wrote. "As I lifted from the zone . . . I noticed that some of the electrical components were not working and there were new terrible sounds coming from the engine component. . . . We determined that one of the 50 cal. rounds had gone through us end to end and taken out the firewall junction box causing the electrical problems. Another round had put a hole in the exhaust system which accounted for the new engine noise. I finally decided that except for some electrical damage and exhaust problems, I still had a bird whose engine was developing satisfactory power, the transmission and drive trains were intact and we had radios, we were ready to rejoin the mission."

He rescued the crew of a second South Vietnamese helicopter that had gone down, and that crew placed its heavy guns in firing positions at the windows of the Marine helicopter. "Those big guns, firing those big rounds out of the aircraft, bounced my flight helmet up and down on my head," Maj. Braddon reported.

His "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action," flying into concentrated automatic weapons fire, and his lack of hesitation in doing his duty were noted in his Silver Star citation.

John Rendall Braddon was born in New York on Oct. 19, 1929. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1952. After college, he joined the Marine Corps and served a short active-duty tour in Korea. He was designated a naval aviator in 1954 and served in the Marines' fighter, attack, photographic and electronic reconnaissance groups, as well as helicopter squadrons. He was an instrument flight instructor and took part in air-to-air missile tests at the Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, Calif., and served with the Naval Air Systems Command.

Col. Braddon served two tours in Vietnam, in 1964 and in 1969. During the second tour, he was operations officer of a Marine aircraft group and commanding officer of a Marine fighter attack squadron.

In addition to the Silver Star, his military awards included the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star and two awards of the Air Medal.

After he retired from the military in 1976, Col. Braddon became an agent for New York Life Insurance, where he qualified for the Million Dollar Roundtable and was elected to the board of the D.C. Life Underwriters Association. He retired from that job in 1997, and for the next two years, he worked for the Fairfax County public schools, first as a substitute teacher and then as a full-time special education teacher.

He also volunteered for and was president of Mended Hearts, a support group for people undergoing open-heart surgery.

Col. Braddon was volunteering for the Smithsonian Institution as a docent at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles Airport, when he met Quang X. Pham, the son of the Vietnamese pilot that Col. Braddon had rescued in 1964. Pham, himself a Marine helicopter pilot who served in the Persian Gulf, wrote about his father and the rescue in "A Sense of Duty: My Father, My American Journey" (2005).

Survivors include Col. Braddon's wife of 57 years, Jean Anne Lipani Braddon of Fairfax County; four children, John D. Braddon of Fairfax County, Virginia R. Braddon of Fairfax City, David K. Braddon of Frederick, Colo., and Tracy N. Braddon of Clifton; a brother; and two grandchildren.

Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

This information was last updated 05/18/2016

Please send additions or corrections to: VHPA Headquarters

Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list

Return to VHPA web site

Date posted on this site: 03/10/2024

Copyright © 1998 - 2024 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association