Remains of Serviceman MIA In The Cambodian Jungle During the Vietnam War – Finally Found and Identified.
Above Photo: The jungles of Asia still contain hundreds of thousands of dead, from both sides of the Vietnam War.
My novel BACK deals with the Vietnam War ‘then and now’ in the jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and especially the fate of US MIAs and POWs in this remote area. So I was interested to read that the remains of a US Serviceman, Major Dale W Richardson, who was Missing in Action during the Vietnam War had been identified and repatriated from Cambodia a while back.
He’d obviously been on a mission inside Cambodia, where his helicopter had been shot down by heavy ground fire in May 1970. The official line was that the chopper “had been on its way to South Vietnam when it diverted due to bad weather, and it then flew over Cambodian airspace.”
Unfortunately this wasn’t any old Cambodian air space, but right over one of the most deadly and vital parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where it entered South Vietnam in an area called The Fishook. That area was crawling with NVA, Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge solders at the time, the Ho Chi Minh Trail (also known as the Sihanouk Trail in Cambodia) also being heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns.
The chopper made an emergency landing near the village of Memot, where it was quickly attacked by the NVA. A firefight took place, killing Richardson at the scene. His remains were never recovered.
One of the four chopper crew made it back to the safety of South Vietnam after a few days. The other three, together with a passenger, were quickly caught by the NVA, and two subsequently died in captivity and two were released.
The normally reliable www.pownetwork.org states that these men were actually part of an attempt to stop the NVA from gaining strongholds in Cambodia. President Nixon had announced a request by Cambodia for American assistance on April 30 1970, to try to stop the NVA having a sanctuary in Cambodia. This was important because the NVA could retreat into Cambodia unharmed, after doing battle in South Vietnam, because the US were effectively prohibited from entering Cambodia in pursuit at that time.
The US sent a team to check the crash site and look for survivors or bodies a few days after the chopper went down. I have added some notes from this visit below:
Date: May 17 70
Spot report at downed chopper: Tail number 16542, found. neg – bodies, neg bones Believed was shot down by 51 cal – 51 cal hole in blade.
Found numerous FT prints (NVA type) around area – attempts had been made to conceal the aircraft – Also found 2 sets of burned fatigues but was able to distinguish laundry mark.
In tail section was an American Express banking statement w/name, rank & serial number…
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
And for POWs left behind after the Vietnam War:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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