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 2001.
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
SYNOPSIS: During May and June of 1970, the 11th Armored Cavalry (with the
exception of the detached 3rd Squadron) was under the operational control of
the 1st Cavalry Division and participated in the 1st's sweep across the
Cambodian frontier. The 1st had enjoyed strategic success in the missions
despite the 30 kilometer advance limit imposed on American military
personnel. The success of the 1970 Cambodian incursion was measured in part
by the capture of individual weapons sufficient to equip 55 full strength VC
infantry battalions, sufficient crew-served weapons to equip 82 to 90 VC
battalions, and enough small arms ammunition to provide a basic load for
52,000 soldiers. There were over 10,000 known enemy casualties.
On June 10, 1970, PFC Walter M. Pierce was assigned to a unit that was
inside Cambodia well over the 30 kilometer limit. They were set up in a
night defensive position in Mondol Kiri Province, Cambodia, about 20 miles
west-southwest of the city of Chbar. At the border's closest point, this
location was over 50 kilometers inside denied territory.
That afternoon, while returning to the position with 2 other men, Pierce had
to cross a stream which was spanned by two bridges. The stream was deep and
extremely swift. PFC Pierce jumped into the stream with his boots and
trousers on with the intent of swimming the stream. He began to encounter
difficulty and started to drift downstream. The other two men attempted t
rescue him, but were unable to reach him. After going under 3 times, he
disappeared, and an intense search that afternoon and the following morning
by the unit failed to locate him.
Pierce's is one of the unfortunate accidental deaths that occur wherever
people are. The fact that he died an accidental death in the midst of war,
and in the midst of a dangerous mission is tragically ironic. He is listed
among the missing with honor, because his body was never found to be
returned to the country he served.
Others who are missing do not have such clear cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were
in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.
Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those
who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several
million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to
agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Distractors say it would be
far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive
home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.
Over 1000 eye-witness reports of living American prisoners were received by
1989. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe,
the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many years? If the men are
alive, why are they not home?