United States Air Force Aircrew
12 July 1967
Dove (pilot) and Lieutenant Colonel Squire (instructor pilot) were the
crew of a T-28D aircraft lost while conducting an armed, night reconnaissance
mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam on July 12, 1967.
Subsequent search and rescue attempts located
a wing of the aircraft but detected no sign of survivors. Their group remains
were recovered and repatriated on June 1, 1992 as the result of a joint
U.S. - Vietnamese excavation. Captain Dove was born September 9, 1940 and
his home of record is Bluefield, Virginia. Lieutenant Colonel Squire was
born September 16, 1930 and his home of record is Sacramento, California.
13 August 1995:
"`HE WAS MY ANGEL'' AFTER 28 YEARS, A PILOT COMES HOME JILL DOVE BRCIC NEVER KNEW HER FATHER. SHE WAS ONLY A YEAR OLD WHEN HE LEFT TO FLY F-4 FIGHTERS OVER VIETNAM. ON WEDNESDAY SHE'LL SAY A FINAL GOODBYE AS THE REMAINS OF AIR FORCE CAPT. JACK P. DOVE ARE BURIED AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY.
Jill Dove Brcic has never heard her father's voice or felt the warmth of his dark, hazel eyes.
Yet her life has been lived in his shadow.
As a child, she stood in the front of a crowded chapel in Bluefield, staring at those who had come to honor a fallen pilot. As a teenager, she watched the rigid stances and the prideful stares of a college ROTC ceremony, wondering what might have been.
As an adult, she joined the throng of veterans and their families at Mount Trashmore to gather in silence around a replica of the Vietnam wall, feeling for the first time a bond with others who had lost.
``I always knew I had a father,'' said Brcic, in a recent interview in her Virginia Beach townhome. ``It's funny, even as a kid I would talk to him. I knew he was in heaven.
"I knew he was my angel.''
On Wednesday, Brcic and her family will say goodbye to Air Force Captain Jack P. Dove, a father, husband and brother who died when his plane was shot down over North Vietnam more than 28 years ago.
Dove and his co-pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Boyd E. Squire, will be honored in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where their remains will be buried in a steel coffin under a single, marble stone.
The ceremony ends what at times has been a difficult struggle for the Doves, a close-knit family from western Virginia who came to terms with the death years ago but who have always wondered how and, what if.
They are hoping the burial - with the soft words spoken on a grassy slope and a bugler slowly playing taps - will provide them the long-awaited closure.
In some ways, they say, it is fitting that the service will follow what many believe is the final chapter of the war, the normalization of relations with Vietnam.
Jack Dove, who was 26 when he died, will be laid to rest just months after the United States and Vietnam erase the last vestiges of a conflict that killed more than 58,000 U.S. men.
For Jill Brcic, who sits in her living room, flipping through photographs and newspaper clippings, Wednesday's service is a chance to pay tribute.
She was a year old when her father left on a snowy morning in December 1966.
A former teacher, Dove had been in the Air Force for five years when he left to fly F-4 fighters in Vietnam. His family was staying in Bluefield while he was deployed. They would join him when he completed his 100 missions and came home.
On that December morning, Dove hugged Jill and handed her to her grandmother before leaving to go to the airport.
"Daddy gone,'' Jill said as he walked to the car.
Dove was sent to a base in Thailand. He wrote home often, to his wife and children, sending snapshots of himself in uniform, standing in front of a fighter.
Months passed, and Dove grew anxious to return. It was taking a long time to get the 100 sorties. He switched to a squadron that flew both day and night missions, to speed up his count. He was, he told them, a "night owl.''
On July 12, 1967, Dove was on his 93rd mission, flying a modified T-28 trainer plane. He and Squire were flying low, over the mountains, dropping bombs on convoys of trucks using the Ho Chi Min trail.
Dove spotted a band of vehicles and radioed in the location. He requested permission to bomb the trucks in the dark, to strike with no lights.
He was never heard from again.
Dove's wife, Ginger, was at her aunt's house when the two men in uniform showed up at her parent's house. Her father told her to come home. Jack's plane had gone down. He was missing.
She knew differently.
"I knew Jack was dead,'' said Ginger Shrewsberry, who has since remarried. "I felt he was dead right away. I felt it in my heart he was gone.''
Months passed, then years, and still there was no word. Dove's plane had gone down in hostile jungle inside North Vietnam.
Every time the phone rang, his family wondered.
In 1973, when the U.S. prisoners of war were released in Vietnam, Shrewsberry and her family watched on television as the stream of veterans stumbled home.
Dove wasn't among them.
"I remember watching my grandmother and my mother standing there,'' said Brcic. "That was the only time I saw my mom cry.''
In April 1973, the Defense Department declared Dove was killed in action.
A memorial was held one month later, in the church right next door to Dove's family home.
But the story didn't end there.
Over the years, Pentagon officials would contact Shrewsberry to tell her of items they had found from the crash site. A plastic cigarette lighter that Dove probably used. A tarnished set of captain's bars. The heel of a boot.
The phone calls would come sporadically, and out of the blue, but always with a shock.
Shrewsberry had gone back to school and gotten her teaching certificate. She'd remarried and moved to Roanoke and finally, Richmond.
"Time has a way of taking care of things,'' Shrewsberry said. "You get to the realization that life does go on and if you don't get with it you'll get left behind.''
In 1992, the Defense Department notified Shrewsberry they were moving the items from Vietnam to a laboratory in the United States to examine them.
On July 7, 1995, they came to Richmond to tell her what they found.
Bone fragments and other evidence collected at the scene proved what had happened to Dove and Squire. The memorial was planned.
Last month, Brcic, now a mother herself, read the defense department report and understood for the first time how her father died: that it was a sudden death, that he probably felt no pain.
"This is an honor for him to be in Arlington,'' Brcic said. "It's what I want for him.
"There's always going to be an opening there that's not going to close. There's always going to be an unknown for me. Not the unknown for what happened. The unknown of not knowing him.''
"There's always going to be an unknown for
me. The unknown of not knowing him.''
A week ago, when Jill Dove Brcic watched the remains of her father laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, she thought she'd found the closure she needed.
The ceremony, with the bugler and the flag draped over a casket, was supposed to shut the final chapter of her father's life and honor his death more than 18 years ago in Vietnam.
Or so Brcic thought as she stood with her mother and brother on the grassy field.
But on Thursday, when Brcic returned home from work to find a box on her front doorstep, she learned the wound hadn't healed.
Inside the box was a letter and a silver bracelet. The sides of the bracelet were well worn and the shine had long since dimmed, but the words were clear:
Captain Jack P. Dove Sr. - 7/12/67.
The letter was from a Norfolk woman, who explained she had worn the bracelet for seven years in honor of Brcic's father, an Air Force pilot who was declared missing in action when his plane was shot down over North Vietnam.
The bracelet was among many issued over the years to people who wanted to make sure that prisoners of war and those missing in action were not forgotten. She had used it in her work as a school librarian, telling hundreds of school children the meaning of MIA, and of Vietnam. Though Dove was later declared killed in action, she'd worn the bracelet as a reminder that his remains had not been returned.
She took it off the day she read a newspaper story of the August 16, 1995, burial in Arlington.
"Your father has been thought of hundreds of times,'' wrote the woman. "I thought you should have his bracelet now that he's come home.''
SQUIRE, BOYD EDWIN
Name: Boyd Edwin Squire
Branch/Rank: United States Air Force/O4
Date of Birth: 16 September 1930
Home City of Record: SACRAMENTO CA
Date of Loss: 12 July 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 172000 North 1061200 East
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Jack Dove, remains returned
Captain Jack Dove and Lieutenant Colonel Boyd
Squire were the crew of a T-28D aircraft lost while conducting an armed,
night reconnaissance mission over Quang Binh Province North Vietnam, July
12, 1967. Remains were repatriated June 1, 1992.
Posted: 13 August 2006
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, August 2006