Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special Forces
Unit: C & C Detachment, Drawer 22 (MACV-SOG), 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 19 September 1935
Home City of Record: Hollyhill FL
Date of Loss: 28 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 164730N 1062000E (XD434574)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles Huston; Alan L. Boyer (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
SYNOPSIS: MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
On March 28, 1968, Sgt. Alan L. Boyer, Sgt. Charles G. Huston, both riflemen, and SFC George R. Brown, intelligence sergeant, were conducting a reconnaissance patrol in Laos, along with 7 Vietnamese personnel. The men were attached to Command and Control Detachment, MACV-SOG. About 15 miles inside Laos, northeast of Tchepone, the patrol made contact with an unknown enemy force and requested exfiltration by helicopter.
Because of the terrain in the area, the helicopter could not land, and a rope ladder was dropped in for the team to climb up to board the aircraft. Six of the Vietnamese had already climbed to the aircraft, when, as the 7th climbed aboard, the helicopter began receiving heavy automatic weapons fire. This forced the helicopter to leave the area.
Simultaneous to these events, Sgt. Boyer began to climb the ladder when seconds later, the ladder broke. When last seen during the extraction, the other 2 sergeants (Huston and Brown) still on the ground were alive and appeared unwounded. On April 1, a search team was inserted into the area and searched 6 hours, but failed to locate any evidence of the three men.
Boyer, Huston and Brown are among the nearly 600 Americans missing in Laos. When the war ended, agreements were signed releasing American Prisoners of War from Vietnam. Laos was not part of the peace agreement, and although the Pathet Lao stated publicly that they held "tens of tens" of prisoners, not a single American held in Laos has ever been released.
Any of the three members of the reconnaissance team operating that day in March 1968 could be among the hundreds of Americans experts believe to be alive today. The last they saw of America, it was flying away, abandoning them to the jungle and the enemy. What must they be thinking of us now?
"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."
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