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Eugene H. "Gene" DeBruin ( Missoula 1959 )

posted: May 8, 2021

Gene jumped at Missoula during the 1959 season and Fairbanks 1961-63. He hired on with Air America after the 1963 fire season and was shot down September 5, 1963. The C-46 in which he was working was on its third mission of the day when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Gene and four other crewmembers parachuted out and were captured by Laotian forces in the area.

In May 1964 the five escaped from the prison camp but were captured six day later. Lt. Duane Martin (USAF) as added to the prisoners in December 1965 and Navy Lt. Dieter Dengler two months later. The group made an escape June 29, 1966, during which several of the guards were killed. Rather than go with the two Americans, Gene chose to help his sick friend YC Chiu.

Martin was killed by villagers and Dengler rescued 23 days later by an American helicopter. Phisit Indradat was captured but was later rescued in 1968. Gene remains MIA.