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Blackshear M. Bryan, Jr.

Blackshear M. Bryan, Jr.

No. 1999428 Oct 1929 – 22 Sep 1967 

Died: Died in a military aircraft accident at Vung Tau, Viet Nam
Interred: West Point Post Cemetery, West Point, NY

BLACKSHEAR M. BRYAN, JR. was one of the tall, young men entering West Point in July of 1950 to begin his journey toward a military career. e 28 “flankers” in Company A-1 developed a spirit of camaraderie, loyalty, and friendship upon which they built their dedication to God and Country.

“Babe,” as he was known by his classmates, was born at the West Point Hospital. His father, a member of the Class of 1922, was assigned to USMA at the time to help coach the Army football team. Thirty-three years later, in 1955, his dad was Superintendent of the Academy. During his father’s tenure as Superintendent, 2LT Morrie Bryan married his sweetheart Catherine at the Cadet Chapel. (Catherine preferred the nickname “Morrie” to “Babe.”)

Influenced by Air Force orientations, Morrie sought an Air Force commission. After flight school, he qualified as an F-86D pilot and then joined the 323rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Truax AFB, WI, where his family began to grow. Morrie was a very devoted and loving husband and father. He was soon transferred to Japan, where the members of his young family experienced one of the happiest periods of their lives. He taught conversational English to their neighbors and Japanese to his family. Their son Morrison went to Japanese school, while his younger sister Claudia stayed home with Mom, enjoying their Japanese community. Morrie was then assigned to Germany, and while living there, the family took countless excursions to explore sights Dad had spotted from the cockpit.

In 1963, as a captain, Morrie made an unusual but not unique request for a transfer to the Army. Assigned to the Transportation Corps, he completed flight transition and was ordered to the Army Transportation Research and Engineering Command at Ft. Eustis, VA, where his daughter Catherine Anne was born. In 1967, as he was rounding out a tour in Viet Nam, he was killed in a crash during a U-21A training mission while avoiding trespassers on the runway. MAJ Bryan was cited for heroism twice during his tour.

Morrie’s family—his widow and children, father and mother, brothers and sister— were all comforted with the knowledge that his dedicated service and sacrifice brought great credit to him and his country. They shared their grief for this man who was a quiet hero, husband, father, son, and sibling.

When called, Morrie willingly joined the Long Gray Line, paying the ultimate price for “Duty, Honor, Country.” He is buried at the West Point Cemetery beside his father and his younger brother, Jamie, who, after two valorous tours in Viet Nam, died in a military aircraft accident in 1977. Morrie is survived by his widow Catherine, their three children—B. Morrison Bryan III, Claudia C. Bryan, Catherine Anne Bryan Brown—and six grandchildren.


Originally published in SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2006 TAPS

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