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  • American/Allied Ground POWs

    Any information on American/South Vietnamese/South Korean/Aussie/etc. prisoners of war who were infantry/support/armor/anything that didn't involve flying in an aircraft?
    "The Bangalore Torpedo was 50' long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT and you assembled it along the way. By hand. I'd love to meet the ******* who invented it."

  • #2
    anything that didn't involve flying in an aircraft?
    That leaves out LRRP and other Recon Teams delivered by air, such as Jon Cavianni.
    dit: Lirelou

    Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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    • #3
      I meant crew members of aircraft (like pilots and loadmasters). And I'm especially interested in infantry POWs.
      "The Bangalore Torpedo was 50' long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT and you assembled it along the way. By hand. I'd love to meet the ******* who invented it."

      Comment


      • #4
        You can find the list of all Army and Marines personnel MIA in Vietnam here:

        http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/reports/

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        • #5
          Interestingly, when you look at the records, one finds the name Mateo Sabog. Interesting stories of him if you Google his name.
          "War is hell, but actual combat is a motherf#cker"
          - Col. David Hackworth

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          • #6
            Khe Sanh Feb 25, 1968, 3rd Platoon Bravo Company 1/26th Marines

            This isn't my post. I took it from another site. The original can be found here. It does touch on the American POW issue, in particular a Marine thought killed at Khe Sanh who was released from Hanoi five years later.

            Forty-four years ago today (Feb 25th) a patrol led by 20-year old 2nd Lieutenant Don Jacques, ("the youngest Marine Corps Lieutenant to complete TBS in 18 years," according to his sister Jeanne) set out south of the combat zone to make a diamond shaped sweep of the area along the garbage dump road in order to locate enemy mortar positions that had been playing havoc on the base. Aerial observation had verified that enemy trenches had crept to within 300 meters. One aerial observer claims to have witnessed an estimated 200 enemy troops moving through them at one point. None the less the decision was made to sweep the area with Jacques' platoon. Along the way Jacques was to check in with his CO, Captain Kenneth Pipes of Bravo Company. The final check point was to occur just before reentering the lines near the 1st Platoon's sector. Jacques' patrol route was to keep him within sight of the wire and he was under strict orders to remain on track. Unknown to Captain Pipes and Jacques is that the patrol route was to take him between 2 trench systems of the NVA.

            The patrol left at 0800 on a typical foggy February morning in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. Near the trash pit the the patrol noted a few enemy emplacements, small trenches that encircled the trash pit. The trench system went down the face of a small hill near a river and up the face of an adjacent hill and around the side of it. The patrol followed the trench system for about 30 meters which was off course before they decided to move back onto the path of the patrol and proceed as planned. When the patrol came upon a heavy tree line they were single file. 18-year old PFC Calvin Bright was walking point when 18-year old PFC Clayton Theyerl knew that this was Bright's first patrol on point and according to Bright, Theyerl came up behind him and said, "This is your first patrol and I think you and I ought to switch."

            As the patrol proceeded to the tree line they spread out and at about that time three NVA soldiers dressed in camouflaged utilities were seen running along a trail. The Marines fired a few rounds at them but they got away unscathed. Seeking a chance to capture one of these men, Jacques requested permission to pursue. Captain Pipes, believing them to be on a road much closer to the wire than they actually were reluctantly gave the okay while heeding to the young Jacques to not get sucked into a funneled ambush. What Captain Pipes did not realize is that the patrol was really 600-700 meters away from the southern wire of the combat base and not the 200 meters he'd thought. The incessantly thick elephant grass obstructed the view of the patrol at certain points and when no visual as made on the patrol, no one was alarmed. The morning fog that frequented the region also had yet to burn off. The Kit Carson scout that was with the patrol was very uneasy about pursuing as he feared it was a trap. HM3 John A Cicala, also leery of this move, looked at 2Lt Jacques and exclaimed, "Are you crazy?" As Jacques stepped across the path into thick brush the patrol followed but immediately looked confused and in a moment of tactical compromise began to talk out loud among each other in the moment of confusion. Taking control of the situation, Jacques snapped at the men, "Let's go get them!"

            No sooner had the patrol moved forward than the NVA open fired with a heavy concentration of automatic weapons fire. The fire came from two tree lines, one ran north-south and the other east-west in a sort of classic L-style ambush. Among the first killed was the point man PFC Clayton Theyerl who was shot through the head and killed instantly. Theyerl had been on point for but a few minutes having relieved PFC Calvin Bright of the duty. Bright recalled, "I think if it wasn't for him, I'd be in his position and he'd be in mine right now."

            PFC Alexander Tretiakoff found himself face to face with an NVA soldier and when he tried to fire his rifle, it jammed. He dropped and pulled the magazine out just as the Marine next to him, LCpl Richard W McKenzie, was shot. The fire began to envelope the pinned platoon. Jacques tried to dispatch Cpl Kenneth Claire's squad along with Platoon Sergeant SSgt George McClelland and one of his machine guns to move to the right and hook around the rear of the NVA. Cpl Claire moved under withering fire with his squad and just as he believed himself far enough to the flank moved forward but had not gone far enough to the enemy's flank and moved into the brunt of the enemy's front.

            The records of the 304th NVA Regiment record the actions that morning:
            "With strong fire power and experienced troops, the first fire left many American bodies at the strong point. Light machine-gunner Nguyen Van Lang fired off two series of rounds and eliminated 19 of the enemy. The Americans were tall and big and because they were so slow, many died. However those who remained alive continued the attack. Now they became the target for our mortar fire which fired into the troops and the counter-attack by the two companies of Americans. . . we only began to fire when the enemy was about 20 meters from our combat trench #1. Having killed a number, but with the enemy having a large force and having entered our positions they occupied a portion of that combat trench. They intended to use our trench to continue the attack. But because the Americans are so big and because they carry so much equipment, in a trench of ours that was so narrow, they could not move easily and in some cases were forced out of the the trench.

            Initially the Marines obtained fire superiority. When corpsman HM3 Frank Calzia noticed that the corpsman with 3rd squad was wounded and not on the nearby roadway he recalled, "When I went down to get him, I noticed that the 3rd squad (Claire's squad) from all indications had been wiped out. There was no one left. He (John Cicala) was wounded and the only one left alive." Fire teams were sent left and right to try and envelope the enemy and each time they were wiped out or disappeared in the tall elephant grass and never popped back up again, most would never be seen or heard from again alive.

            John Cicala while laying wounded treated dying Marine LCpl Jerry Dodson. Cicala recalled, "I ran over to him and I took care of him. He had caught a round through his left eye. Believe me I'll never forget it. It came out the other side of his head, but he was still conscious. There was nothing I could do. I put a dressing on him and he told me-it totally freaked me out- but the last thing he said to me was "Doc, make sure I got my weapon." I gave him his piece back and I laid a couple of clips by him." As Doc Cicala ran to the another string of cries calling for the corpsman an enemy round struck him in the neck pushing his dog tag chain into the windpipe. Another round tore through the flak jacket and into the lung, knocking him to the deck as he began to wheeze from his sucking chest wound. He dressed his own wound with the cellophane from a package of cigarettes and began to crawl back to the combat base as best he could with rounds cracking overhead.

            Among the wiped out squad of Cpl Claire, PFC Donald Ridgeway and three others had made it across the open as well as a few others. The fact that they were not visible to Cicala meant that he assumed they had been wiped out. Claire directed his men in fire team rushes across the open and quickly abandoned the tactic as the men ran for the nearest trench line. PFC Ridgeway, PFC James Bruder and LCpl Charles Geller made it to the NVA trench line. The three men worked their way up the trench under the covering fire of the squad's machine gun. When they came to a bend in the trench, a series of grenades landed near the men who ducked the blast and threw grenades back at the still unseen enemy. LCpl Geller popped up to look for the other squads to the left front and behind them and saw nothing. Just then a stray round creased his forehead and knocked him back. He then shouted, "Everybody's dead. Everybody behind us is dead. There's nobody left alive. What are we gonna do?" Geller, shaken from his minor wound, stood up and looked as did Ridgeway and saw four NVA approaching as if they believed that they'd killed all the Marines. Ridgeway fired his rifle and killed two and Geller killed a third with his .45. Ridgeway and Geller slid back down under cover of the trench just as a round came through skimming the dirt and catching Bruder in the chest killing him instantly.

            Geller urged Ridgeway that they had to try and get back to the main force as they were the only ones left. As the two worked their way back across the open, Geller came upon PFC Willie Ruff, a black Marine who had been laying painfully wounded with a broken arm. As Geller was treating Ruff's wound a round hit Geller in the side of the face blowing his teeth out. Ridgeway was immediately struck with a round in the back of the shoulder. Wounded but functional, Ridgeway crawled toward the horribly wounded Geller who was alive but in shock. The three men were immobile and in the open and decided the best bet was to wait there hunkering low on the ground until the reaction force arrived even if it meant waiting until dark before they could move and if necessary play dead.

            Back at the platoon's main position, the withering fire continued. Cpl Gilbert Wall moved with 2Lt Jacques to the left of a small roadway and were immediately pinned down. The main element of the 3rd platoon was smack to the front of the NVA's main line of trenches and under horrendous fire. Wall, who crawled to the left until he drew heavy fire and became pinned behind a tree tried to fire his rifle but it would jam every three or four rounds. He then abandoned his efforts to return rifle fire and took out a map to call for mortar fire but found his view of the other squads had become obstructed by trees. He was unable to move due to the volume of fire until another Marine provided him cover to move so he could get a better view. Every few yards he moved he came across a wounded Marine and now to his astonishment the NVA were visible in the trench line very nearby. "I couldn't believe how many of them were there. I threw a grenade in their trench and killed three, but they filled the spot in no time. The more we killed and got killed, the more they came. The screaming and shouting was so loud you couldn't hear your own voice. By the this time I was terrified and couldn't see the deep trouble we were in clearly. We just didn't have enough men to match their fire power."

            2nd squad under Cpl Robert E. Matzka on the left was pinned down further down the road. Calvin Bright watched Matzka run exposed in the open among his men and try to direct their fire. One man attempted to attack one enemy machine gun that was causing havoc on 2nd squad. Before this Marine could maneuver he was killed only a few yards from Calvin Bright. HM3 Calizia of the 2nd squad believing that everyone in the 3rd squad had been killed maneuvered over to 3rd squad and instead of finding all of them dead Calizia found PFC Edward Rayburn with his lower jaw blown off but alive. He was the first one hit as the squad crossed over the open towards the trench. Rayburn in shock would survive the ordeal but wrote later from his hospital bed to his company commander Captain Pipes, "I saw and heard them die (members of 3rd squad) for three hours." PFC Thomas A Detrick, was a member of the machine gun section that accompanied 3rd squad in their suicidal dart across the open. When the gunner was killed, Detrick took over and was himself hit but kept firing until he felt that he was going to black out, and crawled back towards a defilade and passed out. When he woke up, to his horror, Detrick was laying next to Rayburn with his jaw shot off. The two men were laying there unable to move.

            When the isolated squads of the platoon realized they'd suffered casualties too numerous to be effective, they began to disengage and pull back to the combat base. Gilber Wall who'd began to crawl back after the Marines had disengaged, noticed a wounded Marine with a horrible chest wound. Wall recalled, "He was screaming at me, Marine, Marine, help me!" Wall went back to help the man as did two other Marines. Wall, whose rifle had jammed, took the dying man's weapon. As the men were working their way back to the tree line they passed when the entered and triggered the enemy fire, they triggered another ambush as they were pulling their wounded back. The survivors of the first onslaught had to hug the earth as bullets snapped the tops of the elephant grass and banana leaves above. Next to Wall another Marine was hit in the chest and screaming in pain. Wall placed a thick surgical bandage over the man's chest but it could not stop the flow of blood and the man was bleeding to death.

            Doc Cicala had been stunned by the explosion of a grenade when 2Lt Jacques came running by him shouting "We got to get out of here. Get out of here the best way you can, we're getting wiped out." As Doc, still dazed from the blast began to turn towards the path back to the combat base, he heard Jacques groan. "He caught it right across his femoral arteries. . .There was nothing that could be done. It looked like he got hit with machine gun fire and it caught him below the groin area. It severed both arteries.

            Wall came upon Jacques and attempted to put a field dressing on him. "All this time he was trying to talk to me, but I couldn't understand him." According to Cicala, "He was dead in minutes." A Newsweek photographer caught the dramatic episode as the survivors of Bravo Company's 3rd Platoon struggled through the thick elephant grass back to the combat base. Wall escaped death along the way as a round struck him in the shoulder of his flak jacket and knocked him down just as another passed between his arm and ribs skimming the sleeve of his shirt. The survivors of 3rd platoon made it back to the base as 1st and 2nd squads moved out to the ambush site to help the wounded and recover the dead but they too ran into heavy contact. Corpsman HN Lloyd Moore maneuvered among the wounded to help and dressed three before an enemy mortar killed him. 1st and 2nd squad became heavily engaged and Captain Pipes called for an immediate request for another line company to break the NVA ambush and blocking positions in order to recover the dead and wounded. His request was denied.

            Lt Col James B Wilkinson was faced with a dilemma; "Do I send a squad or are we going to send a company?" Delta Co 1/26 was ready to go. "It was the most difficult decision a commander has to make and the decision I made was: We would not send out the force or go to the aid of those Marines. Now that violates all the Marine principles that I was taught from the first day at Parris Island in 1948. When a Marine gets in trouble, you go out and help him and bring him back. My decision was based on the fact that casualties had been inflicted rapidly. The Marines went into a killing zone and were either killed or seriously wounded. Then, the history of the Vietnamese War was filled with instances in which you get a squad in trouble, you send out a platoon; the platoon gets into trouble you send out a company; you send out another company. Before long night falls and you've go half a battalion out in a very tenuous position. My mission was to defend Khe Sanh Combat Base. I was thin. That's why I did not send aid to the Bravo Company patrol.

            At the end of the day Bravo Company 1st battalion 26th Marines had one confirmed KIA (Donald Jacques), 25 missing presumed dead and 21 wounded. It wasn't until March 30th that the Marines of Bravo Company would be able to exact their revenge in an assault using organic infantry weapons. Captain Pipes lead the assault on the NVA trench line in the vicinity of the February 25th ambush site. The remains, most unidentifiable after nearly six weeks in the open and exposure to air strikes and artillery fire, were collected. Ten more Bravo Company Marines gave their lives trying to recover the remains of their fallen brothers. Initially nine of the remains recovered could not be identified and were interred in a mass grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery by the end of 1968. On the memorial of the grave was PFC Ronald Ridgeway whose family in Houston received word of his death. In 1973 it was discovered that Ridgeway had survived and was captured the night he, PFC Willie Ruff and LCpl Charles Geller, had lay there playing dead awaiting rescue. Ridgeway was the only survivor. He was captured and imprisoned in Hanoi until his 1973 release.


            Below is the photograph of the moment Newsweek photographer Robert Ellison captured the dramatic efforts of Bravo Company's 3rd platoon to get back to the combat base. The lifeless body of 20-year old 2nd Lieutenant Don Jacques is being pulled by PFC John P Washa and PFC Edward Pendergast. This image appeared in a two page spread in the March 18, 1968, issue of Newsweek.
            So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

            Aldous Huxley: Ends and Means (1937)

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            • #7
              More about the return of the KIA Marine from Hanoi and one family's fight to have their KIA Marine's death investigated.

              Among the unidentified remains is Corporal Michael J Brellenthin from North Bergen, NJ.

              Michael Brellenthin was married only two weeks prior to his going to Vietnam. His wife, who has recently remarried, is still actively pursuing information as to her husband's fate. On January 28, 1973, PFC Ronald Ridgeway, one of those 18 "dead" and buried servicemen, was released from a POW camp in Hanoi. Ridgeway had been held in South Vietnam with known POWs such as Harvey Brande, William G McMurray, and Dennis L Thompson. The US had no idea any of these men were POWs until they were released. Ridgeway had come back from the dead, much to the chagrin of the US Government.

              Although the relatives of seven of the Marines believed buried in St Louis found little hope in Ridgeway's return, Brellenthin's wife, Ruth, thought it entirely possible that her husband might have escaped with Ridgeway. How many others, she wondered, had been captured without the US finding out?

              For five years the government refused to give Mrs Brellenthin information about Ridgeway's whereabouts so she could question him about the incident. When she finally found him on her own, it was 1978, 10 years after the ambush. Ridgeway told her he had not seen Michael Brellenthin during or after the ambush.

              But an intelligence report obtained by Mrs Brellenthin indicated that in late February, 1968, approximately 20-30 American POWs were sighted near Khe Sanh. According to the report, "Source observed several of the PWs wearing 'strange caps.' He described this cap as olive drab in color and made of cloth. The caps described resemble the USMC fatigue cap."

              The US Government continued to state unequivocally that LCpl Michael Brellenthin had been killed in action because Mrs Brellenthin could not produce proof otherwise. Although the government lacked positive evidence that Michael was dead, its assumption that he was dead overruled Mrs Brellenthin's assumption that he might be alive. The Marine Corps has admitted that some of those "buried" men could have been captured, but that it is doubtful. Even though considerable doubt surrounds the identification of the Marines buried in St Louis, and, indeed, some of them might have survived, official status change was denied.


              Here is the grave marker of the mass grave of the eight Marines whose remains were recovered March 30, 1968, after Bravo Company re-assaulted the enemy position and recovered the unidentifiable remains of their fallen brothers. Initially this grave marker contained what was believed to be the remains of nine men including Ronald Ridgeway. The burial took place in September 1968. In 1973 when Ronald Ridgeway appeared among recently released POW's, his name was removed from the grave marker.

              So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

              Aldous Huxley: Ends and Means (1937)

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              • #8
                SRV Ron jogged my memory in another thread. A Laos POW. SSG Orville Ballenger, captured in Laos during White Star, spent months in a bamboo cage he could neither sit up or lie down in. Got the BSM for his troubles and later served in the Mekong Delta (Ba Chuc or Ba Xoai) with the 5th SFG.
                dit: Lirelou

                Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DeltaOne View Post
                  Interestingly, when you look at the records, one finds the name Mateo Sabog. Interesting stories of him if you Google his name.
                  Back in 1996, I was in DC, running an office for a VN tourist company. A friend (Bill) from my hometown, Indy, came out to get his Vietnamese "fix", as he had been working for the US gov on POW/MIA for several years in & out of VN.

                  Bill was a Vietnamese linguist, and had been on search teams when they started (1990?) until he retired from the AF in 1994.

                  The story of Sabog's "reappearance" came out when Bill was with me. He laughed when he read the story. He said that one of the first things they did in Vietnam was to go to the place where each MIA was last seen. If it was somewhere in Quang Tri Province, they went to that spot. Even if over water, they went there.

                  Mateo Sabog was on the list of MIAs that he checked out, and he remembered well where he went for him . . . . . it was Tan Son Nhat

                  Doug Reese

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                  • #10
                    Look up a book written by John Rowe. It is his capture and imprisonment by the VC for some years. He was a rarity in that he escaped.
                    Three decades after Vietnam he was assasinated in the Phillipines. I personally consider him the first military victim of the current war on terrorism.
                    "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Trailboss49 View Post
                      Look up a book written by John Rowe. It is his capture and imprisonment by the VC for some years. He was a rarity in that he escaped.
                      Three decades after Vietnam he was assasinated in the Phillipines. I personally consider him the first military victim of the current war on terrorism.
                      Nick Rowe, Pat, Nick . . . he was down in my area (An Xuyen Province), and released just before I arrived.

                      As I've said here in the past . . . . showing my ignorance of the war back then, when I arrived in Camau, they told me I just missed (by a few days) seeing a POW who escaped. This was late 1968. They said he'd been a POW since 1963.

                      As I walked away, I got to thinking . . . . "We've been here since 1963? Really?

                      Doug Reese

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                      • #12
                        Yes, the book by James N. Rowe can be found here. Apparently there were too many Jims, so he was known by Nick. I had his birthplace as Mission, Texas, but it's right next door, in McAllen. There's Colonel Nick Rowe Blvd, and a Nick Rowe High School in McAllen, Texas.

                        http://www.amazon.com/Five-Years-Fre.../dp/0345314603
                        dit: Lirelou

                        Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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                        • #13
                          Survivors

                          Another good read is "Survivors" by Zalin Grant. Grant is a Vietnam Veteran, a Vietnamese linguist and Army intelligence officer, who became a reporter after his 1965 discharge. He was a reporter for Time Magazine and the New Republic. He interviewed the survivors of a jungle prison camp that, during the war, moved often in the areas of Quang Nam and Quang Tin provinces near the Laotian border during the war, until all prisoners were moved to North Vietnam in 1971. The camp was mostly full of enlisted Army and Marines. The only officers were a medical doctor from the 1st Cav. and a helicopter pilot captured at the same time as most of the Army enlisted men who were in the 196th Brigade.
                          It is also the story, from the POW's perspective, of Robert Garwood. Most of those interviewed testified against Garwood at his court martial.
                          No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends John 15:13

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                          • #14
                            How did most of the ground guys get captured? Did they surrender after battle, or what? Were any of them rescued during the war? Also, about how many ground pounders were POWs?
                            "The Bangalore Torpedo was 50' long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT and you assembled it along the way. By hand. I'd love to meet the ******* who invented it."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There's quite a long thread on this subject at http://www.arrse.co.uk/military-hist...s-vietnam.html

                              Some posts seem very well informed.

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