Alan Brunstrom was born in 1931 in Menominee, Michigan. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on June 8, 1948, and was trained as an aircraft engine mechanic and served during the last days of the Berlin Airlift. Brunstrom entered the Aviation Cadet Program on October 6, 1952, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force and awarded his pilot wings on November 2, 1953. After serving as a fighter pilot and instrument flight instructor, Lt Brunstrom served as a C-119 Flying Boxcar pilot for the Air Force Thunderbirds Aerial Demonstration Team at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from June 1956 to August 1958, followed by service on the staff of the 4520th Combat Crew Training Wing at Nellis from August 1958 to October 1959. His next assignment was as a Weapons Controller with the Seattle Air Defense Sector at McChord AFB, Washington, from October 1959 to August 1961, and then as an Air Defense Duty Officer with the 39th Air Division at Ominato and then Asoiwayama AS, Japan, from August 1961 to October 1962. Capt Brunstrom served with the 26th Air Division at Hancock Field, New York, from October 1962 to August 1964, followed by service as an RF-101 Voodoo pilot with the 29th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from August 1964 to December 1965. Maj Brunstrom served as an RF-101 pilot with the 20th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, and later from Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from December 1965 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on April 22, 1966. After spending 2,489 days in captivity, Col Brunstrom was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Travis AFB, California, and then attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1973 to July 1974. After completing an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment, Col Brunstrom served with the 24th Air Division at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1978.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
Major Alan L. Brunstrom distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force over North Vietnam on 22 April 1966. On that date, Major Brunstrom flew a vital weather mission and photography reconnaissance mission deep into hostile territory. With complete disregard for his personal safety, he courageously maneuvered his unarmed and unarmored RF-101 without fighter escort into an area heavily defended by MIG's, Surface-to-Air Missiles, and antiaircraft batteries. In a determined effort to complete his mission, he dropped down for a low level, high speed dash over the target only to encounter an inpenetratable area of ground fire. Despite heavy battle damage, he continued his mission until his aircraft went out of control, forcing him to eject in hostile territory. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Major Brunstrom has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.