HARDY, WILLIAM HENRY

Name: William Henry Hardy
Rank/Branch: Major/US Army 
Unit: Team 91, 
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam 
TDY to USAID,
Pacification Office of Civil Affairs 
Saigon, South Vietnam 
Date of Birth: 6 March 1932
Home of Record: Winterville, NC 
Date of Loss: 29 June 1967 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 105405N 1064218E (XT863055)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Jeep
Other Personnel In Incident: Dang Vu Loat (released) 

REMARKS:  730212 RELEASED BY PRG

SYNOPSIS:  On 29 June 1967, then Capt. William H. Hardy, an agricultural development advisor assigned to Team 91 and on temporary duty to USAID Pacification Office of Civil Affairs when he was captured. Capt. Hardy and his interpreter, Dang Vu Loat, were returning by jeep to Saigon via Bien Hoa on a primary road he had not travel before. The road had recently been cleared by members of the 1st Infantry Division and was believed to be a secure area. As he traveled toward Saigon, he passed a truck carrying an American platoon that stopped in a small village located close to the road. Capt. Hardy pulled up behind several tanks just before a mine exploded near the lead tank blowing a hole in the road.

William Hardy rapidly turned his jeep around and headed back down the road away from the explosion when approximately 30 VC suddenly stood up and began firing their weapons at the two of them. He stepped on the accelerator in an attempt to escape the ambush, then applied his brakes and skidded across the road. The guerrillas surrounded the vehicle and ordered Capt. Hardy and his interpreter out of the jeep at gunpoint. The VC were well armed with several types of armament including anti-tank weapons. The location of the ambush was near the juncture of several roads running through a densely populated area covered with rice fields. It was also approximately 6 miles north of Saigon and 7 miles southwest of Bien Hoa, Dinh Tuong Province, South Vietnam.

William Hardy and Dang Vu Loat were immediately moved to a field where they were held until dark. Then as with the others captured before them, the two men were marched toward the northwest and the prison camp in Tay Ninh Province. They arrived at the camp in September 1967. Dang Vu Loat was separated from the Americans and later released.

Some of the camps were actually way stations the VC used for various reasons; others were regular POW camps. Regardless of size and function, conditions in them 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 known as tiger cages. 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 a wide variety of illnesses in addition to their injuries and wounds. The Americans were being moved toward the west where they would join another group of American POWs, referred to as "The Camacho Group" and so named for SFC Issac Camacho, the senior POW in the group.

When William Hardy arrived at the POW camp, he soon learned two other Americans were already imprisoned there. One was a US Marine Corps advisor, Capt. Donald G. Cook, who was captured on 31 December 1964. The second was Douglas Ramsey, a civilian assigned to USAID, who was captured on 17 January 1966.

The VC could not have found a more inhospitable location for this camp. Torrential rain and poor soil prevented cultivating crops to the point that even rice was in short supply. Prisoners and guards alike had to make do with a meager diet of manioc, bamboo shoots and an occasional rat for protein supplement. When monsoon rains hit early in 1967, the water table would periodically rise several feet saturating the camp for days and flooding the prisoners out of their dugout cells. Originally the VC planned to use this camp for only a short time, but due to continuing B-52 bombings, they opted to wait out the monsoons, and in the end, remained there for a year.

In late 1967, the guards once again broke camp; moved Douglas Ramsey, Donald Cook and William Hardy northwest toward Cambodian border and the drier climate of the highlands. Because he was in the best shape of the three POWs, Capt. Hardy made the trip in 10 days despite having to carry the bulk of the prisoners' equipment.

Donald Cook and Douglas Ramsey followed at a slower pace. After a month of struggling to climb the steep slopes, Mr. Ramsey arrived at the new camp on 27 December 1967. As soon as he arrived in camp, he noticed that Capt. Cook was not there. He immediately asked the guards where Donald Cook was and was told that he had been taken to "a distant camp." It was not until their release that Douglas Ramsey and William Hardy learned from a VC interpreter that their friend had died along the trail, probably from another malaria seizure, only a week or so after the two were separated from Mr. Ramsey.

On 22 December 1970, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), better known as the Viet Cong, released a list of names of American POWs who they reported died while under their control. The PRG list included Donald Cook. According to the communist's list, Capt. Cook died on 8 December 1967.

While Donald Cook died while under the control of the communists they have made no attempt to return his remains to his family, friends and country. For other Americans 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 American POWs 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.
Of e eight Americans captured in the Heartland of South Vietnam before 1968, only Douglas Ramsey and William Hardy survived captivity and were returned to US control on 12 February 1973 during Operation Homecoming.