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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 57283
Last updated: 22 September 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic A6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Grumman A-6A Intruder
Owner/operator:VA-85, US Navy
Registration: 151788
C/n / msn: I-91
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Song Ca River, N of Vinh, Nghe An Province, North Vietnam -   Vietnam
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) off coast of Vietnam
Destination airport:
A-6A Intruder 151788 'NH-811' of VA-85 was lost on combat operations on April 27 1966 when hit by small arms fire over the mouth of Song Ca River, North of Vinh, Nghe An Province, North Vietnam and crashed into Gulf of Tonkin. Aircraft was targeting barges. Both crew ejected - Lt William "Bill" R Westerman (wounded in arm and shoulder by bullet) and Lt (JG) Brian E "Westy" Westin ejected soon after Westerman into sea at the Gulf of Tonkin. Both were were rescued by the same SH-3 helicopter.

Lieutenant (jg) Brian E. Westin was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism during this combat mission over North Vietnam when he risked his own life to save that of his wounded pilot, Lieutenant W. R. Westerman. According to the official citation:

"The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Brian Edward Westin (NSN: 0-666503), United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism on 27 April 1966 while serving as a Bombardier/Navigator in Attack Squadron EIGHTY-FIVE (VA-85) during a combat mission over North Vietnam. When his pilot was seriously wounded and partially incapacitated during a daylight bombing run, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Westin, by calmly coaxing and physically assisting him in the control of the aircraft, succeeded in reaching the open sea where he made sure that the semiconscious pilot ejected safely before he, himself, exited the plane.

The first to be picked up by rescue helicopter, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Westin directed the crew to the estimated position of his pilot. When the latter was unable to enter the rescue sling because of his injuries, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Westin re-entered the water to assist him despite the fact that a shark was spotted near the bleeding victim.

Following the rescue of the pilot, and before his own retrieval, the hoisting device aboard the helicopter malfunctioned. Realizing the urgency of immediate medical attention for the now unconscious pilot, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Westin waved the helicopter off and remained in the shark-infested water until the arrival of a second rescue helicopter five minutes later. Through his quick thinking, cool courage, and selflessness in the face of grave personal risk, he was directly responsible for saving the life of his pilot. His heroic efforts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

I believe Brian Westin to still be living. The man he saved, William Westerman, retired from the Navy as a Captain in 1985. He passed away in 2010. Westerman's obituary mentions that during his 1966 shoot-down, "The bullet missed his heart by an inch" and that he spent a year in the hospital recovering.


1. A-6 Intruder Units of the Vietnam War By Rick Morgan, Jim Laurier

Revision history:

10-Jan-2009 11:55 ASN archive Added
31-Aug-2012 06:06 Uli Elch Updated [Cn, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location, Country, Phase, Source, Narrative]
15-Mar-2016 16:01 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
15-Mar-2016 16:03 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
15-Mar-2016 16:04 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source]

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