BOYER, ALAN LEE

Name: Alan Lee Boyer 
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army Special Forces 
Unit: C & C Detachment, Drawer 22 (MACV-SOG) 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces 
Date of Birth: 08 March 1946
Home of Record: Missoula, MT
Date of Loss: 28 March 1968 
Country of Loss: Laos 
Loss Coordinates: 164730N 1062000E (XD434574)
Click coordinates to view  (4)maps
Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles G. Huston and George R. Brown (missing) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:  MACV-SOG, or Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (though it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction that were called, depending on the timeframe, "Shining Brass," "Daniel Boone," "Salem House" or "Prairie Fire" missions.

Oscar Eight was the code name given to a sector of eastern Laos located in rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 25 miles northwest of the infamous A Shau Valley, Saravane Province, Laos. The area encompassed the junction of Highway 92, which was a primary north-south artery of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and Highway 922, which branched off and ran directly east where it crossed into South Vietnam at a strategic point near the northern edge of the A Shau Valley. Oscar Eight was also located at the southeastern end of a large and narrow jungle covered valley that had two primary roads running through it, one on each side of the valley. Highway 92 ran along the west side and Highway 919 along the east. A power line ran parallel to Highway 92 and sometimes crossed it. In addition to the roads and power line, the Hoi An River also flowed through the valley passing the road junction roughly 1 mile west of it.

More American aircraft were downed in this sector than any other place in Laos. This was because burrowed deep in the hills of Oscar Eight was North Vietnamese General Vo Bam's 559th Transportation Group's forward headquarters. It was also the Ho Chi Minh Trail's control center and contained the largest NVA storage facility outside of North Vietnam. Oscar Eight was defended by consecutive belts of anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) guns of all sizes that were not only stationed on the ground, but also mounted on platforms in the trees and were expertly camouflaged. Oscar Eight also favored the enemy because the only suitable landing zones were located in a wide bowl surrounded by jungle covered high ground containing AAA guns and bunkered infantry.

On 28 March 1968, then SFC George R. Brown, intelligence specialist; Sgt. Alan L. Boyer, rifleman; Sgt. Charles G. "Greg" Huston, rifleman; and 8 South Vietnamese (ARVN) troops were inserted into the rugged jungle covered mountains of eastern Laos to conduct a reconnaissance patrol in an area well known for its heavy enemy activity.

As the patrol moved through dense jungle just south of a secondary road and approximately 10 miles north-northwest of the city of Tchepone, 14 miles west of the Lao/South Vietnamese border, 16 miles due east of Binh Tram 34 on Highway 19, Saravane Province, Laos; and 32 miles northwest of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam; it made contact with an enemy force of unknown size. When it became apparent they were outnumbered and outgunned, the team requested an immediate extraction by helicopter. They also took evasive action to escape and evade toward a designated rendezvous point. When the extraction helicopter arrived on station, its crew dropped a rope ladder through the dense jungle to the reconnaissance team. Seven of the ARVN soldiers safely climbed up the ladder to the hovering aircraft. As the 8th allied soldier climbed aboard, it came under heavy enemy automatic weapons fire.

Simultaneously, Sgt. Boyer began to climb the ladder. Seconds later, as the helicopter began to depart under fire; the ladder caught in the foliage and broke. Alan Boyer fell the short distance back to the ground. When last seen by the helicopter crew and ARVN soldiers during the extraction attempt, all 3 Americans were alive, uninjured and successfully defending their position.

Three days later, on 1 April, a search and rescue (SAR) team was inserted into the ambush site to search for the three Americans. This ground search continued for 6 hours in and around the last known position of the three Americans, but failed to locate any evidence of the men either alive or dead. At the time formal search efforts were terminated, Alan Boyer, Greg Huston and George Brown were listed Missing in Action.

For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.

Sgt. Boyer, Sgt. Huston and SFC Brown are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords that ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

If Alan Boyer, Greg Huston and George Brown died in their loss incident, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if they survived, they most certainly would have been captured by the same NVA forces pursuing them and their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, 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.

Military personnel in Vietnam were called upon to undertake many dangerous missions, 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 proudly served.