Special Forces Losses in Southeast Asia Three Weeks: 13 Mar-2 Apr, 1957-75

Here’s another installment of our list of SF casualties, on the way to assisting the USA to the Silver Medal in the Southeast Asian War Games. We haven’t done this in a while so there are three weeks at once to start catching up.

The next couple of paragraphs, before the tables, are the boilerplate that goes with this series of posts.

The list was a life’s work for retired Special Forces Command Sergeant Major Reginald Manning. Reg was beloved for his sharp mind and sense of humor; among other tours he survived one at what was probably the most-bombarded SF A-Camp in the Republic of Vietnam, Katum. (“Ka-BOOM” to its inmates).

There is a key to some of the mysterious abbreviations and codes, after the list.

May God have mercy on their souls, and long may America honor their sacrifices and hold their names high in memory.

After the lists you will find a key to the status codes for the Causes of Death or Missing in Action, and also a decoder for some of the common abbreviations.

In addition, we have some individual comments, that are inserted before the weeks to which they apply.

For the week of 12-19 Mar, no SF soldier was lost on 15 or 19 Mar. Note particularly the loss of Captain William Craig due to a dropped Swedish K. (SF term for the Carl Gustav M45B submachine gun, a favorite for “stylin’ and profilin'” for the crowd, but, like all open-bolt submachine guns, hazardous).

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1966

03

13

E-6 SSG

James E.

Hughes

05B4S

KIA

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., YT132368, 8km north of A-312, Xom Cat, Opn Silver City

1966

03

13

O-3 CPT

Edward D.

Pierce

9301

KIA, fixed wing shotdown

SVN; B-31, 519MI, near Xuan Loc; shot down in an L-19

1968

03

13

E-5 SGT

J. Athan

Theodore

11F4S

KIA

SVN; A-238, Buon Blech, Pleiku Prov.

1969

03

13

E-8 MSG

Willis F.

House

11F5S

KIA

SVN; B-55, An Giang Prov., on Hill 92 at Nui Coto, NCOIC of the flamethrower platoon

1969

03

14

O-2 1LT

James L.

Ripanti

31542

KIA

Laos; CCC, RT New Hampshire, in Juliet 9, SSW of Leghorn Radio Relay Site

1966

03

16

E-7 SFC

William H.

Hubbard

71B4S

DNH, accidental homicide

SVN; B-31, Xuan Loc, shot by friendlies while reentering the perimeter

1967

03

16

E-8 MSG

Kenneth R.

Chadwick

11F5S

KIA, DOW

SVN; Advisors, MACV Team 77 at Trung Hoa Ranger Tng Ctr, was w/ SF in Laos at Thakhet in ’61-’62

1969

03

16

O-2 1LT

Francis E.

Sievers, Jr.

31542

KIA

SVN; 2 MSFC, A-201, at A-244, Ben Het, Kontum Prov.

1969

03

16

E-8 MSG

Robert G.

Daniel

11F5S

KIA, DOW, WIA 03/03/1969, DSC

SVN; 2 MSFC, B-20, Kontum Prov., at A-244, Ben Het, YB871242 1 km S of Ben Het

1969

03

16

O-4 MAJ

Marvin L.

Foster

unk

DNH, BNR, recovered ’00; ID’d ’05

SVN; Command Liaison Det, YC936965, aboard U-21A 66-18007, crashed during approach to Hue-Phu Bai

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

1969

03

17

E-6 SSG

Benedict M.

Davan

11F4C

KIA, DSC

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-504, 521 MSF Co, at Nui Coto, Chau Doc Prov.

1970

03

17

O-3 CPT

James M.

Gribbin

31542

KIA, DOW

SVN; 2 MSFC, A-204, near A-244, Ben Het, Kontum Prov.

1971

03

17

O-5 LTC

Bryan J.

Sutton

31542

DNH, helicopter crash

SVN; w/ 101st, Quang Tri Prov., w/ SF in Laos in ’61 & w/ A1/232 in ’63; on OH-58 #68-16884

1971

03

17

O-4 MAJ

Ronald O.

Scharnberg

31542

DNH, helicopter crash

SVN; w/ 101st, Quang Tri Prov., was first Cdr of B-40 in 1967 as a CPT, on OH-58 #68-16884

1969

03

18

E-7 SFC

Margarito

Fernandez, Jr.

11F4S

KIA, DOW

Cam; CCS, w/ RT??, XT441912, during BDA 11km due East of A-322, Katum; w/ B. Murphy

1969

03

18

E-5 SP5

Barry D.

Murphy

12B4S

KIA, BNR

Cam; CCS, w/ RT??, XT441912, during BDA 11km due East of A-322, Katum; w/ M. Fernandez

In the week of 20-26 Mar, somebody died on every date… and along with the usual combat losses, there’s two aircraft shootdowns, one taking the lives of a whole recon team (RT Pennsylvania). Destroyed RTs were usually reconstituted with new personnel.

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1968

03

20

O-1 2LT

Franklin E.

Speight

31542

KIA

SVN; w/ C Co, 503rd/173rd, Kontum Prov.; mult frag wounds

1969

03

20

E-7 SFC

Ricardo G.

Davis

91B4S

MIA-PFD

Laos; CCN, RT Copperhead, YC409110, 59k west of A-105, Kham Duc

1966

03

21

E-4 SP4

John F.

Scull, Jr.

unk

KIA

SVN; 5 SFG, Signal Co., at A-233, Buon Ea Yang, Darlac Prov.

1967

03

21

E-7 SFC

Charles E.

Hosking, Jr.

11B4S

KIA MOH

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., on BLACKJACK 32

1967

03

22

E-7 SFC

Allen H.

Archer

11F4S

KIA

SVN; B-52, “RT 2”, BS779188, Binh Dinh Prov.

1968

03

22

E-7 SFC

Estevan

Torres

11F4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; B-50, FOB2, Binh Dinh Prov.

1968

03

22

E-7 SFC

Linwood D.

Martin

05B4S

KIA, DSC

SVN; B-50, ST Delaware, FOB2, Binh Dinh Prov.

1968

03

22

E-4 SP4

John C.

Wells

11B4S

DNH

SVN; HHC, FOB3, Binh Dinh Prov., got run over

1969

03

22

E-7 SFC

Richard F.

Salazar

05B4S

KIA

SVN; A-333, Chi Linh, Binh Long Prov.

1963

03

23

O-3 CPT

Lavester L.

Williams

31542

DNH, DWM, drowned

SVN; A5/5, An Long, Kien Phong Prov., WS409854; hit on head by passing VN boat while SCUBAing

1964

03

23

E-7 SFC

Thomas L.

Lewis

11F4S

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; A1/334B, Bu Prang (old), Quang Duc Prov., YU520545

1967

03

23

E-8 MSG

Paul A.

Conroy, Jr.

11F5S

DNH, accidental self destruction

SVN; CCN, FOB1, RT Maine, at Kham Duc, WP grenade accident during training

1965

03

24

O-3 CPT

David J. W.

Widder

32162

KIA

SVN; B1/410, at A-106, Ba To, shot on board Caribou during approach to A-106, Ba To

1967

03

24

E-7 SFC

Roger C.

Hallberg

11B4S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., YU100305, 3km NE of A-341, Bu Dop

1967

03

24

O-4 MAJ

Jack Thomas

Stewart

31542

MIA-PFD, DSC

SVN; A-302, Mike Force, Phuoc Long Prov., YU100305, 3km NE of A-341, Bu Dop

1968

03

24

O-2 1LT

Michael A.

Merkel

17860

KIA, DOW

SVN; 7th PsyOps Gp, attached to MACV Tm 21, Pleiku Prov.

1969

03

24

E-7 SFC

William M.

Bryant

11F4S

KIA MOH

SVN; 3 MSFC, B-36, A-362, Long Khanh Prov., Opn Centurian V at Rang Rang

1969

03

24

E-5 SGT

John M.

Greene

05B4S

KIA, DOW

SVN; 5 MSFC, A-503, 512 MSF Co, at Nui Coto, Chau Doc Prov.

1970

03

24

O-2 1LT

Jerry L.

Pool

31542

MIA-PFD (remains ID’ed 06/2001)

Cam; CCC, RT Pennslyvania, YB484003 38k SSW of Leghorn, Ratanakiri Prov., on UH-1H #68-15262

1970

03

24

E-7 SFC

John A.

Boronski

unk

KIA, BNR (remains ID’ed 06/2001)

Cam; CCC, RT Pennsylvania, YB484003 38k SSW of Leghorn, Ratanakiri Prov., on UH-1H #68-15262

1970

03

24

E-6 SSG

Gary A.

Harned

05B4S

MIA-PFD (remains ID’ed 06/2001)

Cam; CCC, RT Pennsylvania, YB484003 38k SSW of Leghorn, Ratanakiri Prov., on UH-1H #68-15262

1967

03

25

O-3 CPT

Richard E.

Legate

31542

KIA

Laos; CCC, FOB2, Nung Company Commander

1967

03

25

E-5 SGT

Albert C.

Files, Jr.

91B4S

KIA, fixed wing shotdown

SVN; A-243, Plateau Gi, Kontum Prov., aboard O-1E #56-2509, shot down during takeoff from A-243

1968

03

25

E-6 SSG

Balfour O.

Lytton, Jr.

05B4S

KIA, DOW, DSC

SVN; 2 MSFC, B-20, Darlac Prov., near Ban Me Thout, vic BR248245 on Opn BATH

1969

03

25

E-7 SFC

Joseph C.

Haga

12B4C

KIA

SVN; 3 MSFC, B-36, A-361, Long Khanh Prov., at Rang Rang on Opn CENTURIAN V

1967

03

26

E-5 SP5

Raymond B.

Guarino

12B2S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-235, Nhon Co, Quang Duc Prov., w/ SFC G.D. Hoskins

1967

03

26

E-7 SFC

Gomer D.

Hoskins, Jr.

11B4S

KIA, DWM

SVN; A-235, Nhon Co, Quang Duc Prov., w/ SP5 Guarino

1969

03

26

O-2 1LT

Robert E.

Sheridan

31542

KIA

Laos; CCC, Hatchet Force, Co B; small arms fire

For the week of 3/27-4/2, no SF soldier was lost on 29 or 31 March, or 1 April. In addition, a SOG veteran has informed the community that “the remains of Alan Boyer, line 6, were returned to CONUS and were formally buried at Arlington 6/12/16, with his sister Judi and several SOA/SFA brethren, LTG John Mulholland and many SF men from 5th SFG in attendance.” While Boyer’s teammate George Brown was recovered in 2002, the remains of their other teammate on RT Asp, Charles Huston, have not yet been recovered and/or identified.

Year

Mo.

Day

Rank

First

Last

Unit

Code

Nation, Location, Circumstances

1966

03

27

E-7 SFC

Alden B.

Willey

11C4S

KIA

SVN; A-222, Dong Tre, Phu Yen Prov.

1968

03

27

E-7 SFC

Johnny C.

Calhoun

05B4S

KIA, DWM, DSC

Laos; CCN, FOB3, YC422918, 5k South of Ta Bat

1968

03

27

O-3 CPT

Mac W.

Speaks

31542

KIA

SVN; A-102, Tien Phuoc, Quang Tin Prov.

1968

03

28

E-8 MSG

George R.

Brown

11F5S

MIA-PFD (Recovered 02/2000)

Laos; CCN, FOB4, RT Asp, XD434574 40k WNW of Khe Sanh, w/ Boyer & Huston

1968

03

28

E-6 SSG

Charles G.

Huston

05B4S

MIA-PFD

Laos; CCN, FOB4, RT Asp, XD434574 40k WNW of Khe Sanh, w/ G. R. Brown & Boyer

1968

03

28

E-6 SSG

Alan L.

Boyer

05B4S

MIA-PFD

(Recovered 03/2016)

Laos; CCN, FOB4, RT Asp, XD434574 40k WNW of Khe Sanh, w/ G. R. Brown & Huston

1968

03

30

E-5 SGT

John F.

Link

12B4S

KIA, DOW, WIA 29 March, DSC

SVN; B-52, 91st Ranger Bn Advisor, vic YD554037 18k NE of A Luoi on Opn Samurai IV

1967

04

2

E-5 SGT

William P.

Martin

91B4S

KIA

SVN; A-241, Polei Kleng, Kontum Prov.

1968

04

2

E-5 SP5

Ingo J. R.

Wiskow

12B4S

KIA

SVN; B-36, A-362, Rapid Fire VIII, Phuoc Long Prov., YU322138, 14km ENE of Song Be

1970

04

2

E-7 SFC

Donald G.

Armstrong

11F4S

KIA

Laos; CCC, FORD DRUM during a low-level photo mission; aircraft managed to return to base


SVN SF KIA Status Codes:

BNR – Body Not Recovered. (Known to be dead, but his body was left behind).
DOW – Died of Wounds. (At some time subsequent to the wounding, days/weeks/months).
DNH – Died Non-Hostile. (Accident, disease. There’s a couple suicides among them).
DWM – Died While Missing. (Usually implies body recovered at a different time during the war).
KIA – Killed In Action.
MIA – Missing In Action.
PFD – Presumptive Finding of Death. (This was an administrative close-out of all remaining MIAs during the Carter Administration).

Common Abbreviations

A-XXX (digits). SF A-team and its associated A-camp and area.
AATTV – Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. Their soldiers integrated with SF in VN.
BSM, SS, DSC, MOH: Awards (Bronze Star, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor).
CCC, CCN, CCS. Command and Control (Center, North and South). Covernames for the three command and support elements of the Special Operations Group cross-border war.
MGF – Mobile Guerrilla Force, indigenous personnel led directly by US.
MSFC – Mobile Strike Force Command, indigenous personnel led directly by US. Aka Mike Force.

We’ll cheerfully answer most other questions to the best of our ability in the comments. Note that (1) it’s Reg’s list, and we can’t ask him any more, and (2) it was Reg’s war, not ours, and all our information about SF in the Vietnam war is second hand from old leaders and teammates, or completely out of secondary sources.

2 thoughts on “Special Forces Losses in Southeast Asia Three Weeks: 13 Mar-2 Apr, 1957-75

  1. Desertrat

    For anyone reading this: Anyone ever know Howard Upchurch? I met him after his retirement. I had occasion to read his mimeo copy of his 201 file. Scary impressive. Howard died maybe ten years ago.

    Reply

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