April 24, 2012
Posted in Henry Serex, MIA/POW, Vietnam War
Tags: Henry Serex, MIA/POW, Vietnam War
In December 2010, we posted on the disturbing case of Major Henry Serex. If you remember, Serex’s aircraft, “Bat 21,” was downed on April 2, 1972. Some twenty years later, in 1992, satellite imagery taken over North Vietnam’s Dong Vai Prison, near Haiphong, revealed a message—“72TA88.” The combination of letters and numbers matched Major Serex’s escape and evade authenticator code, unique as a human fingerprint. In addition, the letters “S-E-R-E-X” appeared above the code.
As quickly as the photos appeared, they soon vanished. No trace of them appears to exist today. In the end, government officials dismissed the display as an anomaly or natural phenomena.
Was Major Henry Serex left behind? We would personally like to thank Serex’s grandson, Brennan, for providing an insider’s take on the case. He wrote:
“My name is Brennan Austin Helwig. I am the grandson of Henry Muir Serex. And the daughter of Henry M. Serex in most all reports you see is my mother. Her and along with my grandmother, his wife, were some of very few to see the satellite photos.
“I remember being very young, about 6 years old several news reporters coming to our house and filming my family, but having not much idea of what was going on. I have been to a POW/MIA convention a few years ago in D.C., as well as Hickam AFB in Hawaii meeting with my family and several members of recovery team leaders out there. My experience, although not as strong as with some other members of my small family, is that of what it seems… a somewhat conspiracy, yet at this point almost understandable why it may be so difficult to go and search for remains, with the addition of very very few people alive and around during that time to give first hand reports of the incident. I do not have much knowledge of the photograph myself, other than what my mother and grandmother have told me. They were only allowed to view it once, while they were invited to view it years back. The photograph to them along with most other members of the intelligence team dealing with recovery remains who have seen the photographs see it as convincing, and have driven them to see out the supposed crash site as well as GPS coordinates of the supposed site where my grandfather’s name was written in the field. The very few possible recovery attempts that were made resulted inconclusive, however one of the trips which was suspected to be the BAT 21 crash site resulted in finding the crash site of a different American crash, so in the insight of other fallen American men, some answers were found for other families.
“Again I can only know so much for myself on the incidents of the time. If there was a man known to be alive at the time, such as Hambelton, there would be no doubt our forces would have done the same for him. The fact that my grandfather was located at the very back of the plane, where it was struck by the SAM missile is disheartening to begin with, but knowing many years later and learning of such photographs, AND having federal government researchers calling my family across country to view classified photos is a sign enough that the photos have significance, although the Air Force denies the actual significance of the photos. It is as much a blessing of the hope of him being alive at the time as much as an added burden so far down the line. (he would be 82 at this point) it’s highly unlikely of a remains recovery, let alone an alive recovery.
“I appreciate all of your care and thoughts reading into this story. It is so much of a strong story that even a high end hollywood movie was made about the crash itself along with the extreme recovery case of Hambelton. We cannot know how much more information can come, but I as the grandson who never knew him or would have had ever had the chance to meet him, can only sympathise and not begin to understand what my mother and grandmother have and go through to this day about this incident, and everything he went through. I thank you all for commenting and the support.”
Brennan, our hearts certainly go out to you and your family. Thank you for your comments.