|Rank/Branch:||Staff Sergeant/US Air Force|
Tan Son Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||02 August 1935|
|Home of Record:||Goldenrod, FL|
|Date of Loss:||31 October 1965|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Prisoner of War|
|Other Personnel in Incident:||Thomas Moore and Charles G. Dusing (both POWs); Jasper N. Page (escapee)|
REMARKS: 6512 DIC-ON PRG DIC LIST
SYNOPSIS: The Tan Son Nhut Airbase was located on the northeast edge of Saigon and was destined to become the primary port of entry and departure for all military personnel serving in Vietnam. Vung Tau was located on the Vietnamese coast approximately 38 miles southeast of Tan Son Nhut and was a favorite resort area for the Vietnamese elite and foreign visitors alike for years.
At approximately 0900 hours on Saturday, 30 October 1965, SSgt. Samuel Adams, SSgt. Charles G. Dusing, TSgt. Jasper N. Page and TSgt. Thomas Moore departed Tan Son Nhut Airbase in an Army UH1B helicopter bound for the resort city of Vung Tao and a weekend of swimming in the South China Sea. They arrived at roughly 1000 hours that day and the aircraft was to return the following day to transport them back to base. They rented a beach cottage and spent the remainder of the day and the next morning swimming and lying around the beach sunning themselves. In the early afternoon Samuel Adams placed a call to the Tan Son Nhut Airbase to confirm their flight back. He was informed the aircraft would not be there to pick them up as planned. After notifying the others, they began thinking of ways to return to Saigon.
As the Americans strolled along the beach, they passed a girl 18 to 21 years old with light brown hair that appeared to be caucasian and who they thought to be French. She was lying under a canopy with an elderly lady who was around 55 to 60 years old. They invited the four sergeants to share the shade of the canopy with them and during the ensuing conversation, they learned she worked in a French bank in Saigon. They also learned the girl's sister was an exchange student in the United States. A short time later two young men, another French-looking girl about the same age as the first one, a Vietnamese and 4 or 5 children joined the group. The Americans inquired about their mode of transportation, when they would be returning to Saigon and asked if they could join the civilians when they returned to the city? Since they had not planned to go back to Saigon until much later, the elderly woman said she would permit her driver to take them to Saigon after dropping the rest of them off at a small plantation just outside Vung Tau where they were staying.
Route 15 was the primary road running from the coastline in a generally northwesterly direction skirting Saigon to the northeast, then continuing through Loc Ninh and on to the Cambodian border. Along Route 15 between Saigon and the coast dense jungle reached to the edge of the road to the east. To the west lay miles of fertile rice fields laced with rivers of all sizes, canals and waterways. Villages of all sizes were also scattered throughout the region. Around 1630 hours on Sunday, 31 October, the Americans and the others boarded a yellow 1961 Econoline Ford panel truck with a Shell Oil Company logo on the side. The Vietnamese male, who was the driver, drove them to a Shell station near Vung Tau where he picked up an automobile tire, and then proceeded north on Route 15. When they arrived at the small plantation, the driver and the 4 Americans got out. TSgt. Page described the plantation as "small with archway for an entrance and fairly large house that was situated off the road a bit." The Vietnamese driver and his American passengers continued northwest on Route 15. They slowed to a stop at a couple of points along the way. Each time the driver motioned them to get down, and each time they continued on without incident. At approximately 1730 hours, they reached a point where the truck slowed down again and the driver once again motioned them to get down. Suddenly the truck came to a stop approximately 1 mile southeast of Ap Tham Thien and 23 miles southeast of Tan Son Nhut Airbase, Bien Hoa Province, South Vietnam.
All the doors of the truck were thrown open by members of a local Viet Cong (VC) unit who ordered everyone out of the truck at gunpoint. The sergeants were searched and all personal items, including weapons that consisted of .22, .38 and .45 caliber pistols, were taken from them. They were tied together in pairs with rope with SSgt. Adams and TSgt. Page paired together and SSgt. Dusing and TSgt. Moore together before the VC ordered them back into the truck. A VC drove the truck off the main road onto a dirt road, then proceeded along the path until it bogged down in mud. 15 VC removed the Americans from the truck and lead off in a northeasterly direction. They arrived at a small jungle camp late Sunday where they spent the night. The POWs were fed, then tied to bamboo bunks anchored by rope to a post in their small bamboo shelters. Thomas Moore was given pills for an upset stomach that seemed to relieve his discomfort. The next morning the Americans were again moved by foot in a northeasterly direction until they arrived at a second camp similar to the first one they were held in. The original 15 guards were replaced by a contingent of 25 to 30 guards. The next morning, Tuesday, 2 November, the Americans were again moved out in the same direction they had been traveling in for the last two days. Charles Dusing developed an upset stomach, as did Thomas Moore before him. He was also weak from lack of water. At approximately 1530 hours, as they moved deeper into the dense jungle, a hard rain began to fall. The guards grouped the men together and put rain gear over them. Jasper Page and Samuel Adams were still tied together and were guarded by 3 VC when they were ordered to stop along the trail. TSgt. Page believed Charles Dusing and Thomas Moore were roughly 500 yards behind them and moving their way.
One guard leaned his weapon against a tree and dropped his guide rope that was connected to his prisoners while he busied himself with something else. Both Jasper Page and Samuel Adams were able to free themselves under cover of their rain gear and briefly decided that SSgt. Adams would go for the guard's weapon while TSgt. Page jumped the other two in an attempt to disarm them. When the opportunity presented itself, both men made their moves. Jasper Page managed to knock one of the guards to the ground as he grabbed the others weapons - a French carbine and an American M1 carbine. At the same time, the third guard reached his weapon before Samuel Adams could get to it. The guard turned and fired at Jasper Page as he fled into the brush. He turned to fire at the guard who was aiming at Samuel Adams as he also ran into the jungle. Because the M1's safety was on, it did not fire. SSgt. Adams was 15 to 20 yards from the VC when they began firing at him.
Jasper Page heard Samuel Adams yell "No," then saw him fall into a bush close to him. He believed SSgt. Adams had been wounded at this time, but did not know how seriously. The guard turned his rifle in TSgt. Page's direction and fired at point blank range. The sergeant ran 4 or 5 steps up the trail before turning left into the brush. He pushed himself forward for 5 to 10 minutes, then lay still in the undergrowth listening for any enemy movement. He heard shouting and more gunshots coming from the direction of Vietnamese voices. He moved further into the brush as additional shots rang out. Darkness fell as TSgt. Page continued to move through the dense jungle in a southerly direction for several more hours. When he reached a swampy area, he hid for the rest of the night. At dawn he moved along the edge of a stream until he saw a rubber plantation on the other side. A number of people were moving around the plantation grounds. Not knowing who they were, the exhausted sergeant hid first in the brush, then later in an empty nearby hut. He rested until dark, then followed a trail toward the west until it ended. At daybreak on Wednesday, 4 November, he picked up another trail heading west, then an ox cart trail and finally another trail that eventually led him to the Tam An Special Forces Camp. From the edge of the jungle he could see 4 ARVN soldiers on guard duty. Before stepping out into the open, TSgt. Page tied a dirty white handkerchief to the barrel of the carbine. When the very tired and tattered man entered the camp's perimeter waving the rifle over his head, the ARVN dropped to the ground and trained their weapons on him. Minutes later a Special Forces Major and an ARVN Captain pulled up in a jeep. They took him into the camp where he received medical treatment and debriefing before being flown to Tan Son Nhut.
Search and rescue (SAR) elements immediately acted upon Jasper Page's timely intelligence and began flying over the area he identified on an area map. Unfortunately because of the dense jungle, no trace of Samuel Adams, Charles Dusing and Thomas Moore was found. While still at the Special Forces camp, SSgt. Page learned that it was not until the men failed to report to their unit on schedule that headquarters realized there was a problem. An extensive search was initiated along Route 15 from Vung Tao to Saigon, but it failed to find any trace of the missing men. He also learned that at the time formal search efforts were terminated; all four of them were listed Missing in Action. Likewise, with this new and timely information, the status of Samuel Adams, Charles Dusing and Thomas Moore was immediately changed from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War.
Over the next few years, the only information forthcoming about the fate of these captured Americans came from a Viet Cong defector who identified a pre-capture photo of Samuel Adams as being a prisoner long after the 2 November escape attempt. For unknown reasons the CIA's analysis of this first-hand eyewitness identification of SSgt. Adams in captivity was deemed inconclusive and no further action was taken on the information. It was not until January 1973, that the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) representatives to the Paris Peace Negotiations presented a list of prisoners they state died in captivity. According to this list, Samuel Adams, Charles Dusing and Thomas Moore all died during December 1965. The communists provided no additional details about their reported deaths.
In March 1992, members of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) interviewed a witness in Vietnam who described sightings of the four servicemen shortly after their capture at a communist way station identified as "B50." This witness stated that one of the four Americans successfully escaped, a second man was recaptured, then later all three were shot by their guards. According to the Vietnamese witness, the three men were buried nearby and sometime later, the remains were exhumed and reburied at another location. According to JTFFA, in the years since the end of the war, the jungle area in which they were interred has been deforested and the gravesite cannot be located.
There is no doubt the Viet Cong captured Samuel Adams, Charles Dusing and Thomas Moore alive and well. The PRG's Died in Captivity records presented to our government representatives in 1973 indicate all three men are dead. In spite of this declaration, there is at least one live sighting report of Samuel Adams alive and in captivity long after the communists' claim he died. Alive or dead, the Vietnamese have the answers and there is no doubt they could return Samuel Adams, Charles Dusing and Thomas Moore, or their remains, any time they had the desire to do so. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for their fates could be quite different.
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 American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
American servicemen in Vietnam were called upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances both on and off duty, 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.