1966

TO LISTEN TO GEORGE JONE'S 50,000 NAMES ON THE WALL

64 65   67 68 69 70 71 72 73

Feb 66, Luc Luong Dac Biet (LLDB), An unidentified Vietnamese Lieutenant and a Sergeant, Kham Duc, Ops 35, Shining Brass, MIA (The facts regarding the loss of these men are unknown).

15 Mar 66; David Hugh Holmes, Cpt 0-3, Pilot, Belmont, Mass, USAF, FAC, MACSOG 32 (Air Studies Branch); Glenn David McElroy, LTC 0-5, USAF Sidney, IL and  John Michael Nash, Cpt 0-3, USArmy 20TH ASTA DET, 17TH AVN GROUP, FIELD FORCE VIETNAM, Tipton, Indiana last reported location in Laos near Khe Sahn- MIA (The last known position was in Laos near Khe Sanh)

A Note from The Virtual Wall

As the the air interdiction effort against the Ho Chi Minh Trail intensified, the need for and use of forward air controllers likewise increased - but Laos was an unfriendlier place than South Vietnam in terms of the threat from antiaircraft artillery. The 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron established a detachment at Khe Sanh to provide FAC coverage along the central part of the Trail. On 15 March 1966, Captain David M. Holmes departed Khe Sanh in O-1E tail number 56-2530 to look for targets along Route 9 in Laos - and he found them, both troops and trucks. In turn, he was found by one or more of the half-dozen 37mm antiaircraft standing guard over the truck park and was downed by 37mm fire. A second O-1 was on-scene almost at once, and its pilot sighted Captain Holmes still in his aircraft. Before search and rescue efforts could get well underway, an Army OV-1 Mohawk from the 20th ASTA Detachment arrived in the valley - and it too was shot down by 37mm fire. The combination of two downed aircraft, enemy troop concentrations and trucks, and AAA sites got everyone's attention and tactical air strikes were called in without delay, beginning an air-ground fight that lasted until dark. The search and rescue efforts were carried out under the umbrella of TACAIR strikes, but were fruitless - there was no contact with any of the three Americans from the downed aircraft. On 16 March a BRIGHT LIGHT force was inserted and reached Holmes' O-1, but found no trace of Holmes himself. When SAR efforts were halted two days later all three aircrewmen were classed as missing in action. David Holmes was carried as MIA, and promoted while in that status, until the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death on 06 Nov 1978, 12-1/2 years after the incident.
 

1966

03

17

O-3 CPT

William H.

Craig, Jr.

9007

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; CCN, FOB1, Kham Duc, Swedish K fired when dropped

17 Mar 66, William H Craig, Cpt 0-3, USASF, FOB #1, Kham Duc, Ops 35, Reaction Force Commander, Killed due to accidental discharge of his Swedish-K sub-machine gun when it fell to the floor off the club's bar and discharged. (Cpt Craig was the commander of the Nung reaction force on the North side of Kham Duc).

06 Apr 66, James W Gates, Cpt 0-3, Mer Rouge, La., and John W Lafayette, Cpt 0-3, Observer (He was the OPS DIRECTORATE (J-3), HQ, MACV, US ARMY) Waterbury, Vermont; Ops 32 (Air Studies Branch) 20TH ASTA DET, 17TH AVN GROUP, FIELD FORCE VIETNAM, Hue-Phu Bai Airfield, Flying FAC in OV-1 crashed 30 kilometers inside Laos, MIA. (Two OV-1 departed Phu Bai for a recon over Laos, both were shot down. Another aircraft flew over the area, observed the wreckage of both OV-1's and the FAC saw the four men (two men per OV-1) alive on the ground with both crews reporting they were alright. Contact was lost with Cpt Gates and Lafayette as they reported enemy forces closing in on them. The crew of the other OV-1 were rescued).

John W LafayetteJohn W. Lafayette

Note from The Virtual Wall

On 06 April 1966 a section of OV-1 Mohawk aircraft departed Hue/Phu Bai on a reconnaissance mission in Laos. The two aircraft were assigned to the 20th Air Surveillance and Targeting Detachment (20th ASTA) and were crewed by

bullet

OV-1A tail number 63-13116
bullet

Captain Harry Duensing, pilot, and

bullet

SP4 Larry Johnson, observer

 

bullet

OV-1A tail number 63-13117
bullet

Captain James W. Gates, pilot, and

bullet

Captain John W. Lafayette, observer

In the spring of 1966 the 20th ASTA was under the direct operational control of MAC-V Headquarters, and MAC-V was represented: although the other three men were assigned to the 20th ASTA, Captain Lafayette was assigned to the Operations Directorate (J-3), MAC-V Headquarters. The two aircraft, with Duensing as lead, proceeded west toward Laos, checking in with "HILLSBOROUGH", the Air Force airborne command post aircraft, enroute. HILLSBOROUGH matched the Mohawks with two Forward Air Controllers who would help work the recon mission. Shortly before 5 PM, HILLSBOROUGH received Mayday calls from both Mohawks - Captain Duensing had been downed by antiaircraft fire, and when Captain Gates took position overhead the downed Mohawk he too was hit. Search and rescue efforts began at once, and by 5:30 PM the FACs had located both crash sites and established radio contact with all four aircrewmen. They were about a kilometer apart on the lower slopes of a hill some 9 kilometers inside Laos. At approximately 6:15 PM Captain Lafayette radioed that enemy troops were closing in on him and Gates and they were in imminent danger of capture. Shortly thereafter radio contact was lost. While Gates and Lafayette could not be rescued, the two crewmen from 63-13116 were picked up by an Air Force SAR helicopter. Gates and Lafayette were classed as Missing in Action and were continued in that status until the Secretary of the Army approved Presumptive Findings of Death for them, Lafayette on 15 Nov 1973 and Gates on 28 Oct 1977. Their remains have not been repatriated.

1966

07

3

O-3 CPT

Edwin J.

MacNamara

31542

KIA, helicopter crash

SVN; CCC, FOB2, CH-34 breakup, w/ Fawcett & Reno, ZB188874 28k SE of Kham Duc

1966

07

3

E-8 MSG

Ralph J.

Reno

11F5S

KIA, BNR, helicopter crash

SVN; CCC, FOB2, RT Nevada, CH-34 breakup, w/ Fawcett & MacNamara, ZB188874 28k SE of A-105

1966

07

3

E-6 SSG

Donald J.

Fawcett

91B4S

KIA, helicopter crash

SVN; CCC, FOB2, RT Nevada, CH-34 breakup,/ w/ MacNamara & Reno, ZB188874 28k SE of A-105

03 Jul 66; Edwin J McNamara, Cpt 0-3, USASF RT Nevada, Tm Leader (One-Zero) and Donald J Fawcett SSG E-6, USASF Team Radio Operator (One-Two) were KIA-RR, Ralph Joseph Reno, MSG E-8, USASF Team Assistant Team Leader (One-One), Fayetteville, NC, MIA; and Nine Vietnamese Soldiers (names and Ranks unknown) were KIA (These 12 men were assigned to FOB #2, OPS 35, KONTUM, SOG) and a CH-34 Vietnamese Helicopter crew consisting the VN Pilot, (Cpt [Dau Uy Nguyen Van Hoagn aka "Mustachio, "Co-pilot and Door Gunner-names and ranks unknown were also KIA. The aircraft was returning from Kham Duc [after a mission] to Kontum, FOB 2 (flying at 5,000 feet) when it hit a severe air turbulence resulting in the  aircraft "falling apart"  loss of the rear tail rotor (the tail , designed to  pivot for storage on aircraft carriers, had come loose, swung around and  chewed the helicopter to pieces in mid air)  causing the aircraft to rotate  rapidly, falling some (1,500 ?) feet in a tight spiral, throwing individuals  and debris over a large area. impacting the ground nose first.  Remains of  2  Americans and 5 Vietnamese were recovered.  MSG Reno  and 4 Vietnamese  soldiers remains were not found after a 5 day aerial and ground search. [Filed by William "Billy" Waugh:   on or about 02 Jul 66 SSG Donald Fawcett was en  route to Kam Duc, SVN, with other Americans, aboard an H-34 rescue  helicopter.  Due to poor visibility and suspected ground fire, one of the  H-34 helicopter clipped the blades of the chopper in which Fawcett, et.al.,  were pax.  All aboard were killed by the crash, and I am not certain if their bodies were ever rescued or not].  (See pg 105-106, SOG A Photo History of the Secret Wars by John Plaster.  Additional Information:  For 34 years, Army Master Sgt. Ralph J. Reno has been a name without a body. For 33 years, he has been presumed dead in a helicopter crash in Vietnam. For seven years, his government has pressed the Vietnamese to account for his whereabouts. For five, the U.S. military has attempted to reach the spot where Reno and 14 others are thought to have died.  Finally, a team of Americans has been airlifted to a ridge in Vietnam's central highlands. They have spent two weeks digging into the mountainside's dense yellow clay. And the fruit of their labor, and of all the years that came before, would fit in an aspirin bottle. Now late afternoon of the dig's 15th day is coming on. The sun, already sinking fast, has disappeared beyond the high knobs to the west. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Newberg, the team's top NCO, figures that everyone's had enough. "Sgt. Ribeiro!" he calls down the switchbacks. "Set 'em free!"  George Ribeiro, a Navy linguist, barks a few short syllables to the Mnong tribesmen passing buckets of clay uphill: Day is done. Back here tomorrow. The workers trudge into the trees, toward their camp. The Americans gather around Ellen Moore, the anthropologist supervising the dig. "We had a really good day again today," she says, pausing to blow a strand of red hair from her eyes. Indeed, it has been good - diggers found what appears to be a human tooth. But like every day the team has spent sweating on the ridge top, forcing the mountain's clay through metal screens, it has seen no gold strike, no discovery that cinches the case shut. Thanks guys," Moore says, eyeing the half-dozen mud-spattered soldiers  and sailors clustered around her. "Good job again."   Most of the team straggles off in the direction of camp. Moore turns to Hector Padilla, who is squatting over a bucket of gnarled metal. The wrecked chopper has turned up in practically every lump of clay dug from the hillside. Its pieces have filled scores of buckets over the past two weeks, close to a dozen just today.   Now Moore and Padilla must go through the day's collected spoils, examining hundreds of marble-sized nuggets of steel and aluminum, zippers and snaps, muddy strips of nylon, frayed pieces of cable, giving each a second look. Moore pulls a bucket near, reaches in, grabs a chunk of metal. There are times on a dig when all are swept up in the science of the task at hand - when a fragment of bone or broken denture, a twisted pair of wire-rim glasses, a shard of helmet are reason to celebrate.  There is, after all, a mission to accomplish. Success turns on finds, on artifacts. So today the members of Recovery Element 6, perhaps a little closer to closing the case, leave the dig in high spirits. Back in camp, Metallica thumps from a boombox outside Newberg's tent. Spaghetti cooks on the mess tent's propane stove. The TV is on, a couple of soldiers struggling to follow the breakneck action of a chop-socky flick. Whoops echo through the forest. But as evening gives way to night, a hush falls over RE-6. Some members of the team sit wordlessly around the fire, faces blank, staring.  They are tired: It's been a long, hot day. They are homesick: Newberg, who spends 250 days each year "on the road," has a wife and four children back in Virginia. Padilla's 10,000 miles from his daughter in San Diego. Maj. Steve Bunch, the team leader, is 14 hours by air from his wife, Ann - who will be flying out of town for a month just three days after he's due back. They might be a little melancholy, besides. Success in this business is bound to be bittersweet, for the bones and teeth and personal effects the clay yields are more than mere evidence; they are fossils of lives once enjoyed, and personalities, and intersections on the great web of human relationships.  The diggers might tell themselves that this is merely where Ralph Reno died, not where he lived. That nothing dug up here will speak to who he was. That his life won't fit into a Ziploc. They might remind each other that closing a case helps ease the hearts and minds of relatives back in the states. That recovery is a good deed, a healing.   And they'd be right, of course. Just the same, to pull a bone from the mud is to hear whispers of some terrible past. To know, with new certainty, that a tragedy happened here. That men died.   Here. On this spot.  This is what bones cannot say about Ralph Reno:  That on nights home in Fayetteville, he'd relax in an overstuffed easy chair, giving each of the kids a turn in his lap.  That every Saturday, he and Lois would enjoy a romantic dinner. They'd eat T-bone. And if the kids had been good, they might be called in, one by one, for a bite of steak.   That his disappearance hit his family hard.  Lois and the kids got the word after they'd had another Army family over for a backyard cookout. "We had some leftover steak bones they were supposed to take, and they had forgotten them," daughter Mary-Eleanor Grier recalls. "So when the doorbell rang, we thought it was them, coming back for the steak bones."   Instead, two men stood at the door. A green sedan was parked at the curb. Lois immediately blurted: "Is he dead?" The men replied that they had to come into the house to talk with her. She shooed the children into the bedrooms, returning a while later to say there'd been an accident. Their father was missing.   "A couple of days after the military had come, I checked the mail and there was a letter, and I recognized his handwriting," Mary-Eleanor says. "I didn't realize that it took a while to get from there to here. I ran into the house with the letter, yelling: 'Mom! A letter from Daddy!'   "Honestly, I probably never gave up hope that he was alive until I was a young woman, maybe in my 20s," she says. "I remember when they showed the POWs coming home on TV, and I watched that, just so intently watched that, looking for his face.  "It was almost like a fantasy, that he'd be there."  MISSING BONES, LOST MEN  Missing. Years later, that word is still used by some to describe the nearly 2,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen who didn't return from Southeast Asia. In most cases, it is a misapplication: The Pentagon has no evidence that Americans are being held against their will there, nor evidence that any remained in captivity after March 1973, when Vietnam released 591 prisoners of war. Every once in a while will come word of a Westerner in the jungle, speaking English, looking haggard. The men and women of Joint Task Force-Full Accounting take off in pursuit of the reports, but they've yet to find anything but tourists, European academics, the occasional foreign engineer.  The proper term for most of America's vanished is "Killed in Action -Body Not Recovered." Only in the sense that their remains are unfound can one say they are missing.   Local cases drive home the point. One: Capt. Humbert "Rocky" Versace, a Norfolk Catholic High School graduate who went on to West Point and a sterling Army career, was wounded in a 1963 ambush while advising a company of South Vietnamese irregulars. Captured, Versace was questioned at length by the Viet Cong, and when he didn't talk was beaten senseless, isolated from other prisoners, confined in a cage. He didn't bend.  In September 1965, North Vietnamese radio announced that he and another American prisoner had been executed in reply to the death of three terrorists in Da Nang. A number of sources, official and not, confirmed his shooting, and nothing solid has turned up to dispute it. The joint task force and its partner, the Army's Central Identification Laboratory, are actively seeking his remains. Neither, however, considers him missing.   Another: In May 1975, Marines were dispatched to an island off the Cambodian coast to rescue the kidnapped crew of the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez. Among them was Pvt. 1st Class Walter Boyd of Norfolk, who with 25 other servicemen came under fire as he rode a chopper toward the island's coast. The helicopter crashed just off the beach. Thirteen of the men aboard made it out of the wreckage; Boyd and a dozen others did not.  For 25 years, Boyd's body was unrecovered. He was not missing, however;  the lab identified his remains last May.   In Ralph Reno's case, the Army made his death official on July 4, 1967, a year and a day after his H-34 crashed. "An extensive search and continuous check of all possible sources has produced no positive evidence of his fate," Maj. Gen. Kenneth G. Wickham wrote his parents in a July 7 letter. "However, the circumstances attendant to his disappearance, plus the fact that a year has elapsed since he disappeared without any trace, can lead only to the presumption that he is no longer alive."   "I was just too young, really, to understand what life and death was about," recalls Ralph "Trey" Reno III, who was 6 by then. "Basically, I just knew he was gone, and (over time) I realized he was never coming back."   That fall, Lois Reno got another letter from Wickham. "I have the honor to inform you," he wrote, "that your late husband has been awarded posthumously the Bronze Star Medal." The enclosed citation said that Ralph Reno "distinguished himself during the period 1 May to 3 July 1966 while serving as a team leader of a joint American-Vietnamese reconnaissance team.   "Demonstrating vast military knowledge and consummate skill, he personally conducted extensive training to mold the team into a highly competent and responsive unit.. . . Often placing the team security above his own safety, he rapidly gained their respect and admiration through his courage and aggressive guidance on combat missions.   "Because of his singular tenacity and perseverance," the document read, "he has contributed immeasurably to the effective prosecution of the counterinsurgency effort in the Republic of Vietnam." THE HURDLES TO SUCCESS Well after midnight, and the RE-6 camp is still. The   generator was cut off hours ago, and with it the camp's lights. The mess tent is empty. The fire is dark and cooling. Blackness has descended on the forest, so that mahogany no longer stands out against the bamboo, shapes and colors are indecipherable. Tents a few yards off are formless blobs. Laughter drifts from the Mnong camp, off through the trees. Crickets sing. The men and women of RE-6, lost in exhausted sleep, hear none of it. Those who stir tend to stay close to their tents: Twice in the past two weeks, the team has heard tigers on the prowl in the dark, and the latrine's a long, lonely way off.   While the night passes, a new workday - the day just finished in Vietnam - is beginning in Honolulu, 6,300 miles to the east and across the international date line. In an unassuming office building at Hickam Air Force Base, Sabrina Buck is hunched over bones, making notes.  Around her are 18 full skeletons, each carefully arrayed on a lab table. They are discolored by more than a half-century underground. A few bear gritty stains where a steel helmet rusted itself to skull, or a bullet corroded against bone. One has been deformed by the weight of the soil under which it was buried, its facial bones torqued slightly. Otherwise, they are nearly perfect, fit for display in a biology class.  To come upon such a sight is arresting, and not just for visitors: Buck and the lab's other anthropologists are as unaccustomed to working in this environment as outsiders are to seeing it. What they're used to is more accurately represented at the foot of one table - a cone of bone chips, perhaps 10 inches across and six high. Most of  the pieces are no bigger than the cap of a ballpoint pen.  Many are quite a bit smaller.  This is what's left of the crew of a crashed American jet. And therein lies the challenge, and the frustration, of the lab's work in  Southeast Asia, and of cases like Ralph Reno's. Most of the unaccounted-for in America's previous wars were ground troops like the Marine whose complete sturdy skeleton Buck now examines. He was a member of Carlson's Raiders, part of the celebrated unit's invasion of a South Pacific atoll during World War II. Killed in a gun battle, he was buried intact in a hole covered with sand, coral and sea shell, a mix destined to preserve him well, and 57 years later a man who participated in his burial, by then 80 years old, was able to take the lab to the spot. Many of those who fell in Vietnam, like Reno, did so aboard airplanes and helicopters. Their locations can't be pinpointed with certainty. And they were buried in conditions that conspired to hasten their  decay.  An air crash wreaks almost unimaginable havoc on a human body. In jets,  the forces involved don't break bones, they pulverize them. Consider the case of an F-4 Phantom shot down while flying at Mach 1. "The fuel on board explodes," says Army Lt. Col. Franklin Childress, a spokesman for the JTF. "The ordnance on board explodes. The engines, at the back of the aircraft, come through the cockpit. Then there's the fire that follows."   Not much is left. In 1996, a Valujet DC-9 nosed into the Everglades with 110 people aboard.  Rescuers were at the crash site within hours. Even so, the remains of only 57 people were identified. The others, almost certainly, never will be.   Ralph Reno's crash wasn't as hard as that DC-9's; it was, after all, a helicopter accident, played out at a much lower speed. But even if they weren't torn limb from limb, the people aboard the H-34 surely were broken by the craft's nose-first impact, and a fractured body presents more surface area to wear. Decomposition is speedy.  The lab has been lucky in some such cases. In June a 38-year-old anthro named Bill Belcher, a veteran of nine missions, led an expedition to the southeast coast of England, where for 55 years the wreckage of an American B-17 had jutted from a tidal mudflat.   The plane was the "Tondalayo," one of several U.S. bombers named for a movie prostitute. In March 1945 it had been returning from a run over Germany when it was nailed by friendly fire just off the shore.  Five of the seven crewmen had safely bailed out before the plane punched a hole in the mud 13 feet deep. Two others, the pilot and copilot, hadn't been seen since.   Belcher excavated the compressed wreckage, starting at the tail. He  recovered eight of the plane's 13 machine guns as he worked downward through muck and mangled aluminum toward the nose. Some of the weapons were almost complete. One, cleaned up, might have worked.   He also found, laced among debris from the bomb bay, the remains of two people, both wearing or holding their parachutes, neither chute deployed before the crash. Aboard a flying B-17, the bomb bay was the primary point of exit from the cockpit; the two airmen had been scrambling to get out of the plane, and had simply run out of sky.  So well-preserved were the deeply buried portions of the wreck that Belcher recovered a silk survival map of northwestern Europe, its ink still sharp, stained here and there with the round, brown footprints of rusted .50-caliber rounds.  Such luck, unfortunately, is the exception. By the time a team reaches a crash site in Vietnam, it's usually been stripped by metal salvagers and chewed away by a harshly acidic soil that turns bones to powder, the powder to smudge. Bodies the lab gets out of the relatively benign soil of North Korea, where soldiers fell 12 to 15 years before Ralph Reno did, are in better shape than many in Vietnam.  "Some people expect us to go out and find whole human skeletons,"  Childress says. "That's very rare. The elements, the animals - so many things work against success."    ANOTHER DAY IN VIETNAM  Back at the ridge top, Newberg is up first. He strides from his tent and into a cool dun that envelopes the cedars and teaks and bamboo. "Rise and shine!" he bellows at the silent tents all around.  "Rise and shine! If you can't shine, you still gotta rise!"  One by one, RE-6's members roll out of their sleeping bags, shake out  their boots, tumble to the mess tent or down the path to the latrine. Camala Townsend brushes her teeth at a washing station next to the showers. Hector Padilla shaves. Steve Bunch eyes the sky.   It is dark, steely, a shelf of heavy overcast. Wind gusts among the treetops. They sway, their leaves hissing. Rain? Seems a sure bet, and not far off. He leaves camp, walks uphill through the Mnong camp, past its bamboo hooches walled in woven palm and old bed  linens, among its smells - wood smoke and fish oil and feet.  Just beyond, at the LZ, the trees fall away. Bunch stands at the ridge top's edge, jostled by the wind, gazing out on the surrounding country. Clouds are shaving the tops from the mountains over on the Laotian border, a couple ridges to the west. The same seems to be happening to the east. Not good. Not good at all. Rain will likely suspend any digging for as long as it lasts - the slope gets too slick, and with the wind looms the danger of hypothermia.  Before long, Moore, Newberg and the rest of the team hike out of the trees. They stand above the switchbacks, eager to get on with the day's work.  Perhaps, if they're lucky, they'll get a few hours in at the screens, and with greater luck, find more traces of the people who died here. And if they're very lucky indeed, perhaps they'll wind up with 5 grams of bone or tooth that once belonged to Ralph Reno.  Five grams. Less than a fifth of an ounce. A smidgen. That's all they need for the strongest scientific weapon in the lab's arsenal: DNA testing. Every cell of the body contains DNA, the twin-corkscrew chain of proteins that serves as a manual for assembling the cell's owner. A person's DNA determines his or her every characteristic. A human body can be identified with two types of DNA. One, nucleic DNA, is that with which most Americans are familiar: It is unique to the individual, and thus is used in paternity screening, to prosecute rape cases, to second-guess juries before executions.  Nucleic DNA is fragile stuff, however. It resides in the nucleus of the body's cells, which collapse as tissue and fluids decay. By the time a lab team finds remains in Vietnam, the nucleic DNA is long gone.  Which leaves the second type, mitochondrial DNA. It's found in a cell's  mitochondria, its thick-walled power plant, and is far  hardier: Years after death, it persists in bone.  It is not as exact as its cousin. It does not prove a bone belongs to a  particular person, but does establish that the bone belonged to someone who most likely was related to that person. And given that Ralph Reno had no relatives in the H-34, a mitochondrial DNA match would work.    The question is: Will RE-6 find enough bone to test?  Two days from this wet morning, Ellen Moore will close the dig. RE-6 will have pored over 248 square meters of the ridge's flank. It  will have exhausted the ground, and the site's possibilities. Moore will pack the team's discoveries, which she is careful to describe only as "possible dental remains" and "possible human remains," into a padded briefcase, and deliver them to a joint forensic review. American and Vietnamese anthropologists will examine them, and at month's end these scientists will rule that sufficient evidence exists to suppose that the remains found by RE-6 are American.  They will be placed in plastic bags, and deposited in a felt-lined, wooden box, made specifically for the purpose by the Vietnamese. The box will be locked up.  A few weeks later, it will be taken back out of storage and the remains placed in a metal transfer case. At a ceremony attended both by saluting U.S. representatives and uniformed Vietnamese, the flag-draped case will be carried aboard an Air Force cargo jet. The plane will fly first to Guam - where, if the remains are, in fact, American, they will return to U.S. soil for the first time in 34 years.  Finally, on Aug. 28, they will land at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. A ceremony of bands, flags and salutes will welcome them home.   Then will come the waiting.   The remains will be delivered to the lab's custody. They will take their place among remains recovered from dozens of other digs, in Vietnam and at sites around the world. Eventually they'll wind up on an examining table under the lab's bright lights.  Moore will take no part in the subsequent inspection of the evidence; her experience with the case disqualifies her from a role in the lab's blind testing. Other anthros will prepare the report on the remains. An odontologist will examine any "possible dental remains." If analysis of the teeth produces a match with Ralph Reno's dental records, the lab will have taken a decisive step toward his identification. The odds are long against that happening, but it might.  Either way, if the lab can cull the remains for roughly 5 grams of useable material, the anthros will send it off to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md. Reno's younger brother, Bill, will provide the people there with a blood sample.  All this time, the men and women of RE-6 will await word on whether their three weeks on the ridge top accomplished the mission. And Ralph Reno's family will wonder whether it will achieve the closure so long denied it. It's a bigger family, these days: He'd have turned 71 earlier this month. He'd have six grandchildren, two great-grandkids. All in the future. Right now, on the ridge top, the members of RE-6 stand at the edge of the LZ, wondering what the day will hold.  A few Mnong wander from their camp, stand smoking at the tree line in the morning cool. They eye the gathered Americans.  The Americans look skyward.  Everyone waits. From: Pieces of the Past Series; In The Land of The Lost by Earl Swift, Staff Writer The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star, Nortfork, Va, Monday, Nov 20, 2000.

MSGT Ralph J. Reno whose remains have been identified by JPAC and are being kept in Hawaii until next of kin are found. MSGT Reno was a member of HHC, 5th SFG and assigned to RT-Nevada MACV-SOG, 7/3/66 . To date no next of kin have been located and I would like to see if you can spread the word out to other SF members and see if someone can be located and MSGT Reno can be finally brought home to rest in peace. Here is some additional information about him. http://www.usvetdsp.com/vn_pw_bios/r362.htm H.C. Woody Woodward,  NCOBS Veterans Programs 346 Whitestone Road  Charlotte, N.C. 28270 704-365-1014  nettybuzzy@bellsouth.net

Edwin J MacNamara Fr SF Honor Roll

 

1966

07

29

E-4 SP4

Don R.

Sain

05B2S

KIA, DWM

Laos; CCN, FOB1, w/ RT Montana, w/ Laws, XD709269 13k SW of A-101, Lang Vei

1966

07

29

E-7 SFC

Delmer L.

Laws

11C4S

KIA, BNR

Laos; CCN, FOB1, w/ RT Montana, w/ Sain,  XD709269 13k SW of A-101, Lang Vei

29 29 Jul 66, Delmar Lee (Outlaw) Laws, SFC E-7, Mineral Point, Missouri and Don Rue Sain SP/4, USASF, FOB 1, Phu Bai, MACSOG Op 35 and Two Army of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers, name and ranks unknown were on a recon mission. SFC Laws listed as MIA and SP4 Sain and the two Vietnamese KIA-RR.  FOR DETAILS SEE -->DELMAR (OUTLAW) LAW

 

1966

09

28

E-6 SSG

Danny G.

Taylor

05B4S

KIA, DWM, BNR

SVN; CCN, RT Montana, XD760640, "in or near the DMZ", 22k NNW of old A-101 Lang Vei

28 Sep 66, Danny Gene Taylor, SSG E-6, St Louis, Mo USASF, and Two Nungs FOB #1, Phu Bal, Ops 35 SOG, KIA body not recovered. (The team was overran during a halt to make radio contact by an aggressive enemy force near Khe Shan. Taylor was the team?s RTO, One-Two, making radio contact when the team came under fire by a Viet Cong element, he re-shouldered his radio, firing on the enemy and moved over and attempted to jump off of some rocks when hit in the back by a machine gun bullet(s). Two members of the patrol checked him for vital signs, there were none. The team was forced to leave Taylor due to the heavy enemy fire).

 

1966

10

3

E-7 SFC

James E.

Jones

11F5S

MIA-PFD

Laos; FOB1, RT Arizona, XD632624 30k NW of new A-101 Lang Vei, w/ Echevarria & E. Williams

1966

10

3

E-6 SSG

Eddie Lee

Williams

11F4S

MIA-PFD

Laos; FOB1, RT Arizona, XD632624 30k NW of new A-101 Lang Vei, w/ Echevarria & J.E. Jones

1966

10

3

E-8 MSG

Raymond L.

Echevarria

11F5S

MIA-PFD

Laos; FOB1, RT Arizona, XD632624 30k NW of new A-101 Lang Vei, w/ J.E. Jones & E.L. Williams

03 Oct 66; Raymond Louis Echevarria, MSG B-8, New York, NY and James Emory Jones, SFC E-7, Alpha, Georgia and Eddie Lee Williams, SFC E-7, Miami, FL, USASF, RT Arizona, FOB 1, Phu Bai, Ops 35 SOG, and Three Vietnamese, name and ranks unknown all MIA as a result of recon mission one mile inside Laos west of the DMZ. (After insertion, the team moved a short distance from the Landing Zone and ran into an enemy soldier and fired upon him. The team was met by heavy return fire from 360 degrees, the team was surrounded, and most all the team members were wounded. In an attempt to evade the enemy, they split in order to escape. Echevarria called for extraction, but due to the heavy enemy activity this was impossible despite air strikes. Echevarra then reported their situation was hopeless, stating in a calm voice "When I quit talking, put the shit right on us!." A few minutes later, the Air Force fighter bombers dropped their loads across the team?s position. The team was outnumbered almost 100 to 1. During this incident, 6 of the 7 helicopters attempting to extract the team were hit as was one A-1 Sky raider. The only survivor, a Vietnamese interpreter Bui Kim Tien, reports that SFC Williams told him "Jones is dying and Ray (Echevarria) is the same way. Tien further reported he had evaded the enemy with SFC Williams who had been wounded in the thigh after 2 Americans had been killed and last saw him on 4 Oct when Williams sent him to check some caves, at which point Tien was spotted and forced to run from the area. Searches were conducted on 4, 5, & 6 Oct with negative result. A month later, an enemy POW reported he had seen a black man with a wounded thigh, hands tied behind his back and a noose around his neck, being led through villages for public mockery until he was too weak to walk, he was then executed.

 

1966

10

10

E-7 SFC

Charles G.

Borowsky

11F4S

KIA

SVN; B-53, NCOIC S-2, during security patrol at Long Thanh

10 Oct 66- Charles Borowsky, SFC E-7, USASF, NCOIC S-2 Section, Project B-53, Camp Long Thanh, on Security Patrol-KIA. As the Team leader of a CIDG patrol during a search and destroy mission, he was informed by the point man that they had discovered a network of booby traps. SFC Borowsky and two other members moved forward to investigate, and as they approached the booby trapped area, they spotted an enemy squad approximately 40 meters away and immediately opened fire. The enemy apparently had no knowledge of the remaining force left in the rear by Borowsky , began to flank him and the other two members, pinning them down with intense fire. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, SFC Borowsky stood up, exposing himself, and began directing a counterattack. Although he was exposed to a deadly crossfire, he remained on his feet, directing the advance of his patrol until he was mortally wounded (Extracted from Award Citation). 

Filed May 2, 2010 by SSG Fred "Ross" Hayden. hayden@alaska.net senior and only medic at Long Than (66-67).  I was on an operation with SFC Charles Borowski and Sgt James Wood in Oct 66 when Charlie was killed and I got shot in the butt several times.  After that Jim Wood moved up to CCN. I stayed and had the fortune to work with Billy Waugh and several anther notable characters doing training missions outside Dalat. From there I went to the 10th in Tolz and stayed until 69 when I went to flight school -to a cobra transition-Back to nam and flew gun cover for CCN 70-71. .The whole thing started out very mundane and then we started to find some L shaped trenches on both sides of the trail. HMMM!  Then we came across a Buddhist Temple that looked abandoned as was the grave yard the black and whites are taken in.  I found a huge stash of rice and bananas behind the so called alter. One of the pictures show's the inside with a little det cord strung around the place.  We were decoration for Christmas. The some one twisted something or other and the temple was no more .  I have a picture of that too. After that Charlie found some trip wire and called Jim and I up.  Charlie secured the top of the hill and Jim and I were going to look up ahead.  As soon as we crested the hill all hell broke loose.  I don't know what they were so upset about.  It could have been our Christmas decorations. Or maybe blowing the temple up really pissed them off. Jim and I were on the down hillside of the crest between Charlie and 2 really well placed machine gun bunkers.  They racked the area with fire and my buttons couldn't dig as fast as Jim's did and I caught a few in what was then my big butt. Fasted butt reduction in history.  Jim ask me if I could make it back over the top of the hill.  I felt the warm blood between my legs, did a fast inventory with my face down in the mud, counted 2 plus 1 and said lets go. Charlie B put down covering fire for our hasty retreat at which time one of Charlie's Nungs opened up with a BAR and covered us.  Charlie and the Nung both died that day. Charlie took one down the side of his neck into the body cavity right next to his collar bone, no exit wound.  Got some morphine in him but there was nothing we could really do. The last thing he ask me to do was "Tell my wife I love her".  I never got back to Bragg and never found her. That's something I'll never forgive myself for.

 

1966

10

18

E-7 SFC

Charles R.

Vessels

11C4C

KIA

SVN; CCC, FOB2, ST Oregon, Bright Light, near Soc Trang w/ SFC F. H. Lewis

1966

10

18

E-7 SFC

Frederick H.

Lewis

11F4S

KIA

SVN; CCC, FOB2, ST Oregon, Bright Light, near Soc Trang w/ SFC Vessels

18 18 Oct 66, Charles R. Vessels, SFC E-7 and Frederick H. Lewis, SFC E-7, USASF, and forty Nungs Commandos of FOB-2, Kontum, Operation Crimson Tide, KIA (Lewis Smith reports: Fredrick was known as "Huckleberry" due to the straw hat he wore and both were part of a mission, which is credited as being the first to attempt to recover an American POW (USAF Captain Carl E. Jackson), being held by the Viet Cong at one of their R&R center located at Soc Trang. A SOG size company element was formed and commanded by Captain Frank Jaks, a Czechoslovakia by birth, and tasked with the rescue mission. Vessel and Lewis were part of the 3rd Platoon. Their helicopters landed them directly in front of two heavily armed Viet Cong Battalions and the 306 NVA regiment with an estimated 1,000 soldiers. The entire 3rd Platoon was annihilated.  Filed by Clyde Sincere: “Operation ‘Crimson Tide’ MACVSOG's first major ‘Bright Light’ mission to attempt the rescue of U.S. POW's in mid-October 1966.  All of the SOG participants were members of FOB-2.  Unfortunately, the hastily crafted mission caused the force to land right in the middle of two (2) well trained VC battalions.  Needless to say, they did not rescue anyone and FOB-2 suffered very heavy casualties including a couple of U.S. recon personnel.  This operation is covered in a couple of different chapters in Jay Veith's book: CODE NAME: "Bright Light, The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War".  See Operation Crimson Tide- Regarding Frederick from the SF Honor Roll: "Friendly and easygoing, Huckleberry had a country way about him,and with an old straw hat propped above his freckled face,he needed just a piece of straw dangling from his teeth to perfectly impersonate the Twain character" (a Special Forces engineer at Kontum SF Base)

 

1966

10

22

E-6 SSG

Michael R.

Newbern

11B4S

KIA

SVN; B-56, "Team #5", Opn Fondulac, XT454781, Binh Long Prov., w/ Anderson 18k SE of A-322 Katum

1966

10

22

E-5 SGT

Boyd W.

Anderson

11F4S

KIA

SVN; B-56, "Team #5", Opn Fondulac, XT454781, Binh Long Prov., w/ Newbern 18k SE of A-322 Katum

22 Oct 66- Boyd W Anderson, RT's 1-0, SGT E-5, and Michael R. Newbern, RT's 1-1, SSG E-6, USASF, B-56 Project SIGMA, Recon mission-KIA. The five member Reconnaissance team was inserted behind enemy lines and spent the night, moving out at daybreak. After two hours on the trail, the team was ambushed receiving fire from all sides. The reinforced NVA platoon had permitted the Point to pass through and when the main body of the team entered the ambush area, the NVA then sprain the ambush. Sgt Anderson was hit in the knee, dropped to the ground and directed his team to seek cover and radio for help as he was laying down suppressive fire, permitting the team to take a defensive position, at which time he was mortally wounded. Sgt Newbern, observing that Anderson had been hit, took charge of the team as directed by Anderson, ensuring the team took proper cover and directed their defensive fire in an effort to suppress the enemy's fire so Anderson could crawl away from his exposed position while contacting the RR site. During a renewed effort by Newbern to retrieve Sgt Anderson from the direct fire of the enemy, he was also mortally wounded (Extracted from Award citations).

Webmaster:  sog1rlnoe@aol.com