(Washington, D.C.) – After 37 years, the families of those
who died in the Battle of Ngoc Tavak have been informed their loved ones are
coming home, this as the result of a 12-year effort by Vietnam Veterans of
American’s Veterans Initiative, veterans in the U.S., Australia, and
Vietnam, along with governmental and nongovernmental organizations. The
forensic identification process following the 1998-99 recovery of the
remains is complete and has allowed the U.S. government to begin the
notification of the families. The remains of 11 U.S. Marines and one
American Special Forces soldier have been recovered. Five have been
positively identified by forensic DNA processes.
The men were killed May 10, 1968, in one of the most
ferocious battles of the war, at the forward operating base at Ngoc Tavak, a
sub camp of the larger Special Forces camp, Kham Duc, which fell to enemy
hands two days later. These battles resulted in the single largest number of
missing Americans associated with any battle during the entire war.
"We are pleased that after more than three decades, the
families will be able to benefit from the recovery of their loved ones,"
said VVA President Thomas H. Corey.
"It is common knowledge that this battle field never would
have been excavated had not VVA sent teams of veterans to Vietnam, including
the Ngoc Tavac battlefield, in 1994, 1995, and again in 1998," said Bill
Duker, former chair of the Veterans Initiative Task Force.
Providing the U.S. government with maps of body locations,
videotapes of meetings with Vietnamese officials and veterans, along with
minefield locations, VVA enabled a safe and productive recovery of the
remains by the U.S. military in 1998-1999.
U.S. Marine veterans and Australians who participated in
the defense of Ngoc Tavak and Kham Duc were personally involved in VVA’s
Veterans Initiative effort to bring home their brothers-in-arms.
"Members of Platoon Delta X-Ray, including Major Robert
Adams, USMC Ret., Corporals Dave Fuentes, Henry Schunck, Greg Rose, Scott
Thomas, U.S. Navy corpsman, joined Major John White of the Australian Army
in this effort," said fellow platoon member Tim Brown.
"Further details and information will be released after
the Marine Corps finishes the notification process," Corey added.