|Name:||Frederick "Fred" Krupa|
Task Force 2 Advisory Element Training
Support Headquarters Nha Trang, South Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||02 September 1947 (Scranton, PA)|
|Home of Record:||Scranton, PA|
|Date of Loss:||27 April 1971|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||(none missing)|
SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
MACV-SOG, or Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (though it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction that were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
Then Capt. Frederick Krupa was a platoon leader assigned to Company A, Task Force 2 Advisory Element, US Army Special Forces. On 27 April 1971, Capt. Krupa was commanding a special commando unit (SCU) that was to conduct a company-sized raid against communist forces on the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border. The company was being inserted by a flight of UH1H helicopters.
The LZ was located in forested mountains approximately 1 mile east of the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border, the same distance west of a primary north-south road that paralleled the border, and 38 miles south-southwest of the tri-border area where Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia join. It was also 19 miles northwest of Plei Djereng, 42 miles southwest of Dak To and 43 miles west-southwest of Kontum City, Kontum Province, South Vietnam.
The Huey helicopters approached the designated landing zone (LZ) without detecting any sign of enemy activity in the area. As the aircraft hovered 3 feet above the ground, Capt. Krupa prepared to be the first man to depart the Huey. As he did so, hostile forces opened fire on the helicopters, from concealed positions. Others onboard the aircraft observed Capt. Krupa as he was struck in the chest by an AK47 round and then began to fall forward toward the Huey's open door.
The SCU Company A commander, Ayom, grabbed Capt. Krupa's right shoulder stopping his fall. Seconds later, Ayom was struck in the hand forcing him to let go of the wounded American. As soon as Ayom let go of Fred Krupa, he fell 3 feet to the ground. The Huey was forced away from the LZ under intense ground fire before any action could be taken to recover him. The last American to see Fred Krupa was the Huey's crewchief, SP4 Melvin C. Lew. At that time he was lying next to a log sprawled out on his back, not moving and not making a sound. Whether Capt. Krupa was unconscious or dead is unknown.
Moments later, the pilot began to pull away from the LZ unaware that Fred Krupa had fallen from the aircraft. When advised of the incident, he attempted to radio for help, but was unsuccessful because his radio had also been destroyed by enemy small arms fire.
Air strikes were immediately put in all around the landing zone to drive the communists away from Fred Krupa's position. A search and rescue (SAR) mission was initiated, however, due to the heavy enemy activity, no rescue attempt was possible. At the time the SAR mission was recalled, Fred Krupa was immediately declared Missing in Action.
For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
Capt. Krupa was a seasoned soldier who was well trained, very experienced in covert operations and very capable of surviving under adverse conditions. Further, because of the circumstances of his loss, there is no doubt that the enemy knows where he is, either alive or dead. If dead, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. And if alive, 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 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.