173rd Airborne Brigade
|Date of Birth:||19 September 1946|
|Home of Record:||Patterson, NJ|
|Date of Loss:||19 November 1967|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed/Body Not Recovered|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Jack L. Croxdale and Benjamin DeHerrera (missing)|
REMARKS: REMS TAG'D - NOT IN MORTY
SYNOPSIS: On 19 November 1967, SP4 Croxdale, radio operator, and PFC Benjamin D. DeHerrera, squad leader (both from Company C), along with Sgt. Donald Iandoli, squad leader (Company B) were on a Search and Destroy mission in South Vietnam's central highlands. In the morning the patrol swept through the forested region without incident. By early afternoon they continued through a fairly flat area on the east side of a small mountain approximately 3 miles due east of the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border and 13 miles west of Dak To, Kontum Province, South Vietnam. This location was also 7 miles south-southeast of the tri-border region where South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos meet.
At 1435 hours, Companies A, C and D, all part of the 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, nicknamed the "Herd," came under heavy enemy ground fire and were rapidly surrounded by an NVA force of unknown size. During the pitched battle that followed, SP4 Croxdale was manning Company C's communications equipment, which was located in the company's command post. Almost immediately the Americans called in airstrikes upon entrenched enemy positions.
As the battle raged, Sgt. Iandoli was wounded and taken to Company C's command post (CP) where the medical aid station had been set up. PFC DeHerrera was also in the same area along with other wounded and dead soldiers. At 1850 hours, an American aircraft conducting a close air support mission accidentally dropped a 500-pound bomb on the Company C's CP and aid station resulting in additional casualties while the battle continued unabated all around it.
The following day, a search and recovery (SAR) operation was conducted in and around the battle site in an effort to locate the bodies of American dead. This search included the remnants of the command post and aid station. During the search, the remains of SP4 Croxdale, PFC DeHerrera and Sgt. Iandoli, along with those of other Americans who were killed in this operation, were recovered, identified, tagged and placed in body bags prior to being transported to the US Army Mortuary at Dak To.
The body bags containing the remains of Benjamin DeHerrera and Jack Croxdale were reportedly placed on a helicopter with others en route to the Dak To mortuary. Shortly after the last of the dead were evacuated, it was discovered that Donald Iandoli's remains were accidentally left behind. Immediately an additional 3-day search of the battle site was conducted to locate Sgt. Iandoli's body. Unfortunately, the search failed to locate him.
By 4 January 1968, the situation, which was already complicated, worsened. The US Army Mortuary at Tan Son Nhut, which was located on the northwest edge of Saigon and which was the center responsible for processing remains - both identified and unidentified - prior to them being shipped to the US, discovered that not only were Sgt. Iandoli's remains missing, but so were the remains of SP4 Croxdale and PFC DeHerrera. All three men, who were already listed Killed in Action, were now declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered and their families were notified accordingly. Of all the Americans who were killed during this operation, only the remains of SP4 Croxdale, PFC DeHerrera and Sgt. Iandoli were ultimately lost somewhere between the battle site and the US Army Mortuary at Tan Son Nhut.
While the fate of Benjamin DeHerrera, Jack Croxdale and Donald Iandoli is not in doubt, they have the right to have their remains returned to their families, 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 Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Military men in Vietnam were call 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