BROWN, WILLIAM THEODORE

Name: William Theodore Brown
Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Special Forces
Unit: SOA, Command & Control North, (MACV-SOG), 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 20 February 1945 (Chicago IL)
Home City of Record: La Habra CA
Date of Loss: 03 November 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 154800N 1064700E (XD643674)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 1514

Other Personnel in Incident: Gunther H. Wald; Donald M. Shue (both missing);
six Montangards (two missing, four escaped).

Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2012.

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: Bill Brown was born in Chicago, Illinois February 20, 1945, the
youngest of three boys.  When Bill was two, his family moved to California,
where they remained, and where he attended Cerritos College. Bill was an
excellent swimmer and golfer.

In September 1965, Bill joined the Army and earned his Beret and paratrooper
badge. He was sent to Vietnam on December 14, 1967. He is a demolitions
expert and fluent in the Vietnamese language. In Vietnam, he helped train
Montagnard tribesmen, and was so drawn to them that he reenlisted after his
tour and returned to Vietnam in May 1969.

On his second tour, Bill was attached to MACV-SOG, Command and Control
North. MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation
Group) was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force
engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th
Special Forces channelled personnel into MACV-SOG (though 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.

It was on such a mission that SSgt. Brown, SSgt. Gunther Wald, SP4 Donald
Shue and two of the six Montagnards went missing. The Americans and
Montagnards were members of a patrol operating in Laos. The patrol team was
attacked by a numerically superior force 30 miles inside Laos near Ban
Chakevy Tai in Saravane Province. Four of the Montangards escaped and
returned to camp to report the ambush and capture of their comrades.

When last seen, Brown had been wounded by a gunshot just below the rib cage.
He was lying on the ground as the attackers shouted, "Capture the
Americans". SSgt. Wald and SP4 Shue were also seen to receive numerous
schrapnel wounds from a fragmentation grenade. The other team members were
forced to withdraw leaving the others behind.

Due to bad weather, a recovery team could not reenter the area until
November 11. They searched the entire area, but could only find some web
gear which was identified as belonging to three of the indigenous team
members and SP4 Shue. There was no trace of any graves, or of the three
missing Americans. They were classified as Missing In Action.

The U.S. did not negotiate for the release of any of the nearly 600
Americans lost in Laos. No American serviceman held in Laos has been
released. Tragically, the U.S. has received over 6000 reports indicating
that many Americans are still held prisoner today. Many men were seriously
wounded and survived captivity. No one saw Brown, Shue or Wald die. They
could be among the hundreds many authorities believe to be alive today. If
so, what must they be thinking of us?
 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 709-12
August 27, 2012

Soldiers Missing From Vietnam War Identified

 
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, were recently identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown of La Habra, Calif., Sgt. 1st Class Donald M. Shue of Kannapolis, N.C., and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther H. Wald of Palisades Park, N.J., will be buried as a group on Aug. 30, in a single casket representing the three soldiers, in Arlington National Cemetery. Brown and Shue were each individually buried on Sept. 26, 2011, at Arlington and May 1 in Kannapolis, N.C.

On Nov. 3, 1969, the menand six Vietnamese soldiers were part of a Special Forces reconnaissance patrol operating in Quang Tri Province, near the Vietnam-Laos border. The patrol was ambushed by enemy forces and all three Americans were wounded. Brown was reported to have suffered a gunshot wound to his side. Due to heavy enemy presence and poor weather conditions, the search-and-rescue team was not able to reach the site until eight days later. At that time, they found military equipment belonging to Shue, but no other signs of the men.

Between 1993 and 2010, joint United States/Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted multiple interviews on nine different occasions in Quang Tri Province. Additionally, the S.R.V. teams unilaterally investigated this case, but were unable to develop new leads. Among those interviewed by the joint teams were former Vietnamese militiamen who claimed in 1969 they ambushed three Americans in the area near the Laos-Vietnam border. In 2007, a Vietnamese citizen led investigators to human remains that he had discovered and buried near the site of the ambush. In 2008, a military identification tag for Brown was turned over to the U.S. Government from a U.S. citizen with ties to Vietnam. Finally, in April 2010, joint teams excavated a hilltop area near Huong Lap Village, recovering additional human remains, military equipment, another military identification tag for Brown, and a "Zippo" lighter bearing the name "Donald M. Shue" and the date "1969."

Scientists from the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial and material evidence, along with mitochondrial DNA - which matched that of some of the soldiers' family members - in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, call 703- 699-1169 or visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

 
 

08/30/2012

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0830-green-beret-20120830,0,7101921.story?track=rss

The remains of a soldier from La Habra missing since he disappeared in Southeast Asia in 1969 with two other U.S. troops have been officially identified by the Department of Defense.

Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown was part of a Special Forces unit patrolling in Vietnam's Quang Tri province in November 1969 when enemy forces ambushed the group, which consisted of three American soldiers and six Vietnamese soldiers, according to the Defense Department....

The soldiers will be buried in a single casket at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.