CRAVEN, ANDREW JOHNSON

Name: Andrew Johnson Craven
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army
Unit: Company E, 2nd Battalion, 
1st Infantry, 
23rd Infantry Division 

Date of Birth: 13 April 1947
Home of Record: Wilmington, NC
Date of Loss: 12 May 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 152630N 1074806E (ZC005090) 
Click coordinates to view maps

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

REMARKS:  GROUND ATTACK - POSS KIA

SYNOPSIS:    Kham Duc Special Forces camp (A-105), was located on the western fringes of Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. In the spring of 1968, it was the only remaining border camp in Military Region I, and was located 46 miles southwest of DaNang, on a narrow grassy plain surrounded by rugged, virtually uninhabited jungle. The camp and airstrip were bordered by the Ngok Peng Bum ridge to the west and Ngok Pe Xar Mountain, looming over Kham Duc to the east. Steep banked streams full of rapids and waterfalls cut through this tropical wilderness.

In late March 1968, US intelligence picked up information that the 2nd NVA Regiment, well over 10,000 men strong, was moving from North Vietnam, through Laos, and intended to enter South Vietnam somewhere south of Kham Duc, on it way to the DaNang area. An intelligence team, comprised of 3 Australian advisors and their Chinese Nung Mike Force, was charged with the responsibility of locating, tracking and reporting on the enemy movement. They established a base of operations five miles south of Kham Duc in the old abandoned French fort of Ngok Tavak located between the Vietnamese/Lao boarder and Route 14.

The commander of the 2nd NVA regiment determined that neither Ngok Tavak nor Kham Duc could be bypassed because of the threat each posed to his flank once the regiment moved past them. Kgok Tavak was assaulted in the early morning hours of 10 May 1968. At the same time, the NVA began blasting Kham Duc at 0245 hours with heavy mortar and recoilless rifle fire in an attempt to "soften up" the entrenched US and allied troops. During the next two days, the battle for Kham Duc continued unabated. In that fierce fighting 19 Americans were captured, became Missing in Action or Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered as the Americans and allied troops tried desperately to hold on. In the end, those survivors who could not be evacuated were given orders to escape and evade from Kham Duc.

On 12 May 1968, then PFC Andrew Craven was a rifleman assigned to guard a defensive position outside the base perimeter of the Kham Duc Special Forces Camp. PFC Craven and two other soldiers from Company E were manning one of three observation posts when the camp came under heavy enemy attack at approximately 0430 hours. Throughout the pre-dawn hours these observation posts, as well as the camp itself, came under a well coordinated intense attack by a greatly superior enemy force.

By approximately 0830 hours, Andrew Craven and the two other soldiers realized their position was in imminent danger of being overrun and withdraw under fire to a fallback position some 50 yards away. As they settled into their new position, they could hear enemy troops in the observation post they just vacated.

At roughly 1100 hours, all Americans stationed outside the battalion perimeter were ordered to pull back into it. As PFC Craven was the point man as the three made their way toward Kham Duc's outer defenses. They unexpected encountered a concealed enemy position. PFC Craven immediately opened fire. The NVA returned fire and Andrew Craven fell to the ground with multiple chest wounds. Because of the distance between the point man and the other two soldiers who survived the battle, as well as the strategic position of the enemy troops, it was impossible to reach Andrew Craven. The other two soldiers hastily retreated to the American position.

Shortly after 1200 hours, the decision was made to immediately extract all personnel from the beleaguered camp. This evacuation was disorderly and, at times, on the verge of complete panic. After the battle, the survivors were debriefed to include all information known about those left behind. Due to the circumstances of loss and the possibility that Andrew Craven could have survived his wounds, he was listed Missing in Action.

On 18-21 July 1970 and again from 17-20 August 1970, search and recovery (SAR) teams returned to Kham Duc to search for the remains of those Americans who were missing and unaccounted for. During these trips, personnel from Graves Registration were unable to find any trace of PFC Craven.

For Andrew Craven, there is reasonable doubt of his fate. If he died from his wounds, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, his fate, and that of many Americans who remain unaccounted for in Indochina, 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 fly and 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.