HARBER, STEPHEN JAMES "STEVE"

Name: Stephen James "Steve" Harber
Rank/Branch: Sergeant/US Army 
Unit: Company E, 2nd Battalion, 
506th Infantry, 101st Infantry Division 
Date of Birth: 08 May 1948
Home of Record: Fairmont, MN
Date of Loss: 02 July 1970 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162525N 1071140E (YD335172)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Lee N. Lenz and Roger D. Sumrall (both killed/remains recovered) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   On 2 July 1970, then SP4 Steven J. Harber was as a rifleman assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. His unit set up in a night defensive position to block enemy troops and supplies from moving through this hotly contested region in the rugged mountains near the South Vietnamese/Lao border as the communists infiltrated into South Vietnam from the 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 acknowledged war zone.

The American position was located approximately 7 miles north of the infamous A Shau Valley, 8 miles northwest of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 25 miles west-southwest of the city of Hue and 28 miles southeast of Khe Sanh, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

At 0400 hours an enemy force of unknown size attacked his unit's position. SP4 Harber was known to occupy a fighting position with Sgt. Lee N. Lenz and SP4 Roger D. Sumrall. All areas within the American's defensive position were hit by numerous rocket propelled grenades (RPG), satchel charges, mortar rounds and small arms fire throughout the remaining hours of darkness.

At daybreak the next morning the Communists broke off the assault and vanished into the surrounding jungle. A search of the area was immediately initiated to find the wounded, recover the dead and determine if any of the men were missing.

The remains of Sgt. Lenz and SP4 Sumrall were found by recovery personnel along with the bodies of other American soldiers who lost their lives in that pre-dawn battle. When it was discovered that SP4 Harber could not be found anywhere in the area either alive or dead, a search and rescue (SAR) operation was immediately initiated. Unfortunately, no trace of the soldier, including his weapon and gear, could be found in or around the battle site. At the time the formal search was terminated, Steve Harber was immediately listed Missing in Action.

If Steve Harber died during this battle, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived, he most certainly would have been captured by those communist forces attacking his position 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 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.