Name: James Bennett Conway 
Rank/Branch: Major/US Army 
Unit: Company B, Detachment A253,
5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces 
Duc Co Special Forces Camp, South Vietnam 
Date of Birth: 23 November 1930
Home of Record: Franklin, TN
Date of Loss: 12 April 1966 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 141200N 1073627E (YA814713)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 


SYNOPSIS:  Then Captain James B. Conway was the senior Special Forces advisor to the CIDG irregular defense unit/border surveillance force located at Duc Co Special Forces Camp, South Vietnam.

When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos and Cambodia for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road, which was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains, was used by communist forces to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

On 12 April 1966, the members of a combat reconnaissance patrol were transported from Duc Co Special Forces Camp to the detachment's Forward Operating Base at Kontum (FOB 2) for the mission briefing. The scope of the reconnaissance patrol was to locate, observe and report on enemy activity infiltrating into the acknowledged war zone. After the briefing, the patrol boarded helicopters for the flight to the mission's area of operation, which was located in the rugged jungle covered mountains of the central highlands.

After insertion, the patrol moved away from the landing zone (LZ) and into the surrounding jungle. As Capt. Conway's patrol moved through the dense jungle, they encountered and engaged a communist force of unknown size. In the chaos of the ensuing fierce firefight, James Conway was separated from the rest of the patrol and not seen again. After the battle, the survivors discovered their senior advisor was missing. An extensive search was immediately initiated, but no sign of Capt. Conway or his equipment was found. At the time the search was terminated, James Conway was reported as Missing in Action.

The area in which Capt. Conway was lost was 3 miles northwest of the Ko Krong Bolah River, 20 miles due east of the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border, 27 miles north-northwest of Duc Co and 34 miles southwest of Kontum. It was also 44 miles due south of the tri-border area where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia join.

The reality is that based on the official record of loss, no one knows for sure what happened to James Conway. If he died as a result of this action, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. On the other hand, if he survived, he most certainly could have been captured by the enemy with which his team was engaged in combat and his fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is little doubt the communists have the answers and could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.

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 and Laos 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.