Name: Charles Hue Gatewood g008p
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Marine Corps
Unit: Company B, 1st Battalion,
1st Marines, 1st Marine Division

Date of Birth: 21 March 1950 (Marianna, AR)
Home of Record: Chicago, IL
Date of Loss: 31 May 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 163700N 1064405E (XD865396)
Click coordinates to view(4) maps

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


SYNOPSIS: On 31 May 1968, then LCpl. Charles H. Gatewood was a rifleman assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. His unit was participating in a combat operation along Highway 9 in the rugged mountains west of the large Marine base at Khe Sanh to locate and engage enemy forces operating in this hotly contested region.

Highway 9 was a primary east-west road running from the South Vietnamese/Lao border to the coast that communist forces used to infiltrate troops and supplies through the northern provinces of South Vietnam. Further, Highway 9 was considered to be a major extension of the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

At 0900 hours his platoon engaged a Viet Cong (VC) force of unknown size. The location of the battle site was in the very rugged mountains just south of Highway 9 and approximately 1 mile north of the village of Lang Ta Kut, 3 miles due west of Khe Sanh and 6 miles northeast of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

During this engagement, Charles Gatewood was wounded. The 18-year old Lance Corporal was last seen by the Navy corpsman who treated his wounds, along with the other wounded platoon members, in the area of the temporary aid station. Charles Gatewood was last seen as he walked toward the designated landing zone (LZ) to be evacuated by a medivac helicopter.

It was not until after the battle was over and the Marines returned to their base that it was discovered that LCpl. Gatewood had not, in fact, been evacuated with other wounded Marines. Later in the day a large scale search and rescue (SAR) effort was initiated for the missing Marine using both ground and air assets. The battle site and surrounding area were thoroughly searched, but no trace of the missing Marine was found in or around the area. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, Charles Gatewood was listed Missing in Action.

If Charles Gatewood died as result of this battle, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived, enemy forces operating in this area most certainly would have captured him, and his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, 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.