CAVAIANI, JON R.
RIP 07/29/2014 Name: Jon R. Cavaiani Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special Forces Unit: Task Force 1, Advisory Element, USARV TAG SUP; Headquarters USARV Date of Birth: 02 August 1943 Home City of Record: Merced CA Date of Loss: 05 June 1971 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 164111N 1064346E (XD844455) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Other Personnel In Incident: John R. Jones (missing) REMARKS: 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 2014. SYNOPSIS: In 1971, MACV-SOG's Command and Control North, Central and South were redesignated as Task Force Advisory Elements 1, 2 and 3, respectively. These titular changes had little initial impact on actual activities. Their missions were still quite sensitive and highly classified. Each task force was composed of 244 Special Forces and 780 indigenous commandos, and their reconnaissance teams remained actively engaged in cross-border intelligence collection and interdiction operations. The USARV TAG (Training Advisory Group) supported the USARV Special Missions Advisory Group and was composed of U.S. Army Special Forces and MACV advisors. SMAG formed at Nha Trang from former personnel from B-53, the MACV Rcondo School cadre, CCN and CCS to train the South Vietnamese Special Missions Force teams drawn from LLDB and Ranger units. Task Force 1 Advisory Element was forced from its Hickory Hill radio relay site at Dong Tri in early June 1971. The Hickory Hill post had existed on strategic Hill 953, in northwest Quang Tri Province at the edge of the DMZ since June 1968. On June 3, heavy North Vietnamese artillery began battering the bunkered Hickory Hill defenses. On June 4, five wounded Special Forces and ten indigenous commandos were medically evacuated, leaving SSgt. Jon R. Cavaiani and Sgt. John R. Jones with 23 commandos defending the mountaintop. At about 0400 hours on June 5, Jones and Caviani were in a bunker when a hand grenade was dropped through the air vent, wounding Sgt. Jones in the leg. Jones left the bunker, and was seen shot in the chest by an NVA soldier. An NVA battalion stormed the summit and captured Hickory Hill on June 5 in adverse weather which prevented air support. In the bunker, Caviani played dead as NVA soldiers came in looking for survivors. As his bunker was set on fire, Caviani ran, burned, to another bunker. He spotted a helicopter and attempted to signal it, serving only to alert the enemy to his position. Cavaiani was captured as the last positions fell. Later searches failed to turn up any sign of John R. Jones, dead or alive. He is among nearly 2500 Americans still missing in Southeast Asia. There can be little question that the enemy knows his fate, yet the Vietnamese deny knowledge of him. Evidence mounts that hundreds of these men are still alive, captive, waiting for their country to bring them home. One of them could be John R. Jones. Sgt. Jon R. Cavaiani was released by the Provisional Government of Vietnam on March 27, 1973. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his attempt to defend Hickory Hill.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). JON R. CAVAINI Staff Sergeant- United States Army Captured: June 5, 1971 Released: March 27, 1973 An individual must at least attempt to keep his mind occupied, to retain his sanity, otherwise, the enemy will enter. Therefore, I decided what were the things I believed in: God, America, and my family. Yes, they had always been in my mind and then when I needed them most they stood by me as a shield against the enemy. After extensive and rigorous training in the skills of the Special Forces, I went to Vietnam as a weapons man. Upon arriving there I was immediately made Agricultural Advisor for Military Region 1 or I Corps, a job in which I had an extensive knowledge, having been District Sales Manager for a chemical company, which specialized in agricultural chemicals, prior to my military career. Also, before working for the chemical company, I had farmed for four and a half years. I was Agricultural Advisor for four months until reassigned to run reconnaissance for four months. I was also a heavy weapons platoon leader for a month. My last assignment before being captured was as a commander of a relay site north west of Quang Tri. On June 4, 1971 the site was attacked and overrun by the enemy. The following day, I was captured. From that day forward the enemy, in their own way, gave me the will to survive, to resist their ideas and their belief that what they were doing was right. This in turn strengthened my conviction that I was right in being in Vietnam. As a prisoner I was to meet some of the most heroic men I have ever or will ever hope to encounter, men who never let their country or families down, when so many people in the United States were letting us, the POWs, MIAs and almost all our country, down. Well, by God, regardless of what some people said about the war, we did our jobs as men and kept the faith in our President and country. I thank God and my country for letting me come back to see my daughters again. And I say, with great pride, God Bless America. November 1996 Jon Cavaiani retired from the Army as a Sergeant Major. Medal of Honor ---- CAVAIANI, JON R. Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Vietnam Training Advisory Group, Republic of Vietnam Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 4 and 5 June 1971 Entered service at: Fresno, California Born: August 1943, Royston, England Citation: S/Sgt. Cavaiani distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action in The Republic of Vietnam on 4 and 5 June 1971 while serving as a platoon leader to a security platoon providing security for an isolated radio relay site located within enemy-held territory. On the morning of 4 June 1971 the entire camp came under an intense barrage of enemy small arms, automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from a superior size enemy force. S/Sgt. Cavaiani acted with complete disregard for his personal safety as he repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to move about the camp's perimeter directing the platoon's fire and rallying the platoon in a desperate fight for survival. S/Sgt. Cavaiani also returned heavy suppressive fire upon the assaulting enemy force during this period with a variety of weapons. When the entire platoon was to be evacuated, S/Sgt. Cavaiani unhesitatingly volunteered to remain on the ground and direct the helicopters into the landing Zone. S/Sgt. Cavaiani was able to direct the first 3 helicopters in evacuating a major portion of the platoon. Due to an intense increase in enemy fire, S/Sgt Cavaiani was forced to remain at the camp overnight where he calmly directed the remaining platoon members in strengthening their defenses. On the morning of 5 June, a heavy ground fog restricted visibility. The superior size enemy launched a major ground attack in an attempt to completely annihilate the remaining small force. The enemy force advanced in 2 ranks launching a heavy volume of small arms, automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fire while the second rank continuously threw a steady barrage of hand grenades at the beleaguered force. S/Sgt. Cavaiani returned a heavy barrage of small arms and hand grenade fire on the assaulting enemy forces but was unable to slow them down. He ordered the remaining platoon members to attempt to escape while he provided them with cover fire. With one last courageous exertion, S/Sgt. Cavaiani recovered a machine gun, stood up, completely exposing himself to the heavy enemy fire directed at him, and began firing the machine gun in a sweeping motion along the 2 ranks of advancing enemy soldiers. Through S/Sgt Cavaiani's valiant efforts, with complete disregard for his safety, the majority of the remaining platoon members were able to escape. While inflicting severe losses on the advancing enemy force, S/Sgt Cavaiani was wounded numerous times. S/Sgt Cavaiani's conspicuous Gallantry, extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army. ============
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U.S. Army Sergeant Major (Ret) Jon R. Cavaiani, a life member of Oakdale VFW Post 2922 and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was diagnosed ...
This video shows Jonís journey from California. https://vimeo.com/102439492