BIVENS, HERNDON ARRINGTON

Name: Herndon Arrington Bivens 
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army 
Unit: Security Platoon, 
52nd Aviation Battalion 
17th Aviation Group, 
1st Aviation Brigade 









Date of Birth: 01 January 1951 (Frankfort, Germany) 
Home of Record: Jamaica, NY
Date of Loss: 15 April 1970 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 145127N 1074126E (YB895442) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Prisoner of War 
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H "Iroquois"
Other Personnel In Incident: Roger A. Miller (Released POW) 

REMARKS:  DIED 2 HOURS AFTER CAPTURE

SYNOPSIS:   By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.

On 15 April 1970, then Cpl. Herndon A. Bivens and Sgt. Rosindo Montana were pathfinders assigned to a security platoon attached to the 52nd Aviation Battalion. They were passengers aboard the lead UH1H in a flight of helicopters. The mission was to insert elements of the 3rd Battalion, 42nd Regiment, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops into a landing zone (LZ) in the forest rolling hills approximately 1 mile south of the Krong Poko River and 2 miles west of the primary north-south road running from Kham Duc south to Dak To. The 2 pathfinders and 6 ARVN soldiers they were guiding were successfully inserted into the designated landing zone by the lead helicopter without incident.

The LZ was also located approximately 4 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Laos border, 14 miles north-northeast of the tri-border area where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia join; and 15 miles north-northwest of Dak To, Kontum Province, South Vietnam.

The second Huey (serial #68-16203) was struck by enemy ground fire during its approach to the LZ and crashed on the LZ. WO Albert L. Barthelme, Jr.; WO1 Roger A. Miller; SP4 Vincent S. Davis; and SP5 Donald C. Summers comprised the crew of this aircraft. Also aboard were 6 ARVN soldiers, two of who died in the crash.

When the second helicopter crashed onto the LZ, Cpl. Bivens, Sgt. Montana and their ARVNs were located nearby on the edge of the clearing. Other aircraft in the flight made three unsuccessful extraction attempts to rescue the survivors of the second aircraft and the passengers from the first. On the fourth attempt, the helicopter managed to rescue only SP4 Davis and SP5 Summers before being driven off by enemy ground fire.

Later attempts by US Air Force Search and Rescue (SAR) forces, who had been called in when the first Huey was shot down, were also unsuccessful in rescuing the remaining survivors. At the time SP5 Summers and SP4 Davis were rescued, they reported that WO Barthelme was badly wounded and Sgt. Rosindo Montana, one of the pathfinders, was dead. During the night WO Barthelme also died from his wounds.

Two ARVN survivors from the first helicopter were able to evade capture and make their way to friendly lines. The night before they departed the landing zone where the 2 remaining Americans had taken cover, the ARVNs asked Cpl. Bivens and WO Miller to go with them. The Americans decided their chances for rescue were better if they stayed where they were and declined the ARVNs offer.

WO Miller and Cpl. Bivens were again engaged in battle with the Viet Cong (VC). Both Americans were wounded and shortly thereafter, they were captured. Due to heavy enemy activity in the area of loss, SAR personnel were unable to return to the landing zone until 29 April 1970. At that time the team was able to examine the crash site and recover the bodies of WO Barthelme and Sgt. Montana. They found no trace of Cpl. Bivens and WO1 Miller in or around the LZ. At the time the search effort was terminated, Herndon Bivens and Roger Miller were listed Missing in Action.

Roger Miller returned to US control during Operation Homecoming. After his release, WO1 Miller reported that he and Cpl. Bivens had spent the night on the landing zone near the Huey's wreckage. In the morning they attempted to return to friendly lines. As they attempted to evade the enemy, they were ambushed by two VC squads at an unknown location near the landing zone.

WO1 Miller reported that Cpl. Bivens had been wounded in the chest 5 or 6 times by small arms fire. After capture, both men received medical attention before being separated. The last time Roger Miller saw Herndon Bivens was when he was being taken away from the ambush site on a stretcher. At that time, Cpl. Bivens was still undergoing medical treatment.

Roger Miller was moved into a nearby holding camp, then on to a regular prison camp. Some of these camps were actually way stations the VC used for a variety of reasons. Others were regular POW camps. Regardless of size and primary function, conditions in the VC run camps frequently included the prisoners' being tied at night to their bamboo bunks anchored by rope to a post in their small bamboo shelters. In others they were held in bamboo cages, commonly referred to as tiger cages, and in yet other camps the dense jungle itself provided the bars to their cage. There was rarely enough food and water to sustain them, and as a result, the Americans suffered from a wide variety of illnesses in addition to their injuries and wounds.

Roughly 4 days later, the prison camp commander told WO1 Miller that Cpl. Bivens died of his wounds about 2 hours after capture. Even though Roger Miller did not witness Herndon Bivens' death or burial, he believed the camp commander was telling him the truth. Roger Miller was held in several different prison camps in South Vietnam before being moved to North Vietnam. He was released on 5 March 1973.

There is little doubt that Herndon Bivens died from his chest wounds shortly after capture. There is no doubt that the Vietnamese could return his remains to his family, friends and country any time they so chose to do so since he was a confirmed Prisoner of War who reportedly died while under their control. Herndon Bivens has the right to have his remains returned to the United States and be buried with honor befitting an American military man who died for his country.

For other American who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate 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 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.