HERREID, ROBERT DALE

Name: Robert Dale Herreid
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army
Unit: Detachment A-402, 
Company D, 
5th Special Forces Group, 
1st Special Forces 

Date of Birth: 13 June 1946 (Williston, ND)
Home of Record: Aurora, IL
Date of Loss: 10 October 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 102247N 1045857E (VS975478)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   On 12 October 1968, Special Forces demolition's specialist then Sgt. Robert D. Herreid was an advisor to the 47th Mobile Strike Force Company operating in a region of extremely southern South Vietnam populated with many small villages. Further, this area was mostly flat, laced with mangrove swamps, rice paddies, canals and waterways. Only the Nui Coto mountains rose up to break the horizon.

During a combat operation in the Nui Coto mountain area, Chau Doc Province, South Vietnam, his unit was advancing up the southwest mountain slope when it was ambushed by a large enemy force entrenched in hidden bunkers. The mobile strike force was forced to immediately withdraw to a nearby pagoda where it set up a defensive perimeter.

During the initial burst of enemy gunfire, Robert Herreid was struck in the chest and reportedly fell to the ground unconscious or dead. The ambush site was approximately 12 miles southeast of the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border, 17 miles northeast of the Gulf of Thailand, 26 miles north-northwest of Rach Gia, and 58 miles northwest of Can Tho. The American's Cambodian radio operator said he was near Sgt. Herreid when he fell and that he picked up the American's weapon before retreating to protective cover. The radio operator later gave the weapon to the mobile strike force's commanding officer.

Nguyen Van Liet and other soldiers reported that Robert Herreid was also shot in the left temple, but were unable to clarify if it was a grazing wound or one more serious. He was last seen by the surviving team members lying by a leafless mangrove tree. Because of the heavy enemy presence in the area, the other team members were unable to retrieve Sgt. Herreid and bring him out with them when they slipped out of the enemy trap. Later a search and rescue (SAR) operation was inserted into the ambush site, but was unsuccessful in locating Sgt. Herreid. At the time normal SAR efforts were terminated Robert Herreid was listed Missing in Action.

Throughout the war Mui Coto Mountain was viewed by both sides as important landmark to control since it was the only high ground in the area. Because of this standard combat operations continued in and around the battle site. As patrols moved through the area, they searched for any trace of the missing advisor, but failed to find any sign of him. In 1974 another formal attempt to find and recover Sgt. Herreid's remains was initiated by US personnel from the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC). With the assistance of an inhabitant of the region who claimed to have been with Robert Herreid when he fell in battle, the former strike force soldier took US officials to the location in question. Even though it had been searched several times before, it was searched again. And as with all other searches, no gravesite was found.

Due to the circumstances of loss, there is some doubt about the fate of Sgt. Robert Herreid. If he died of his wounds in that communist ambush, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. One the other hand, if he was captured alive and survived those wounds his fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way, there is no doubt that the Vietnamese can account for Robert Herreid any time they desire to do so.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.