NEWTON, CHARLES VERNON

Name: Charles Vernon Newton
Rank/Branch: Master Sergeant /US Army 
Unit: Reconnaissance Team 6,
Detachment B-52 DELTA,
5th Special Forces Group, 
1st Special Force 
Date of Birth: 10 May 1940
Home of Record: Canadian, TX
Date of Loss: 17 April 1969 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 160126N 1073546E (YC778732)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Douglas E. Dahill and Charles F. Prevedel (missing) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   On 14 April 1969, SSgt. Charles V. Newton, team leader of Reconnaissance Team 6; Sgt. Charles F. Prevedel, then SP4 Douglas E. Dahill and 3 unidentified Vietnamese Special Forces were inserted into the extremely rugged jungle covered mountains of northwestern South Vietnam. They were to conduct a reconnaissance mission into northwestern Quang Nam and southwestern Thua Thien Provinces to locate, observe and report on enemy activity filtering into this region of South Vietnam.

Their area of operation included a primary gateway from the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail into strategic sections of northern South Vietnam. 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.

On 16 April the team reported making contact with the enemy, but radioed that it was continuing the patrol in spite of the fact they had been detected. After making its scheduled morning radio transmission reporting all relevant information, as well as the team's current position, they continued with their mission heading generally to the north and west. At 1206 hours, SP4 Dahill reported to the airborne Forward Air Controller (FAC) they were in a streambed and under attack by a numerically superior enemy force. They further stated they needed an immediate emergency extraction. When rescue helicopters arrived onsite a short time later, they were unable to make radio contact with the team. By 1400 hours, thunderstorms rolled into the area and prevented the insertion of a relief force.

The next day, a Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) team was successfully inserted into the area where Team 6 had been ambushed. They encountered Viet Cong (VC) personnel wearing tiger striped fatigues and bearing rifles and grenades of the type used by Team 6. Formal air and ground search and rescue (SAR) efforts were immediately initiated. This included a thorough search of the streambed, surrounding area and their preplanned evasion route. SAR operations continued from 18 to 25 April, but yielded no trace of SP4 Dahill, Sgt. Prevedel, SSgt. Newton, or the Vietnamese team members. At the time the formal search was terminated, Douglas Dahill, Charles Prevedel and Charles Newton were listed Missing in Action.

The Team's last known location was in the very rugged area covered in double and triple canopy jungle approximately 9 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 17 miles southeast of the A Shau Valley and 40 miles due west of DaNang, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

In mid-May, 1969, A Viet Cong POW reported he had seen two US POWs in Quang Nam Province, but could provide no information about their location. The report was correlated to SSgt. Newton and Sgt. Prevedel on the basis of time, location and compatibility of the physical descriptions to those two men.

In 1970, four photos were extracted from a 1969 communist Christmas propaganda film showing American POWs celebrating the holiday. Three of those pictures were correlated to Charles Newton and one to Charles Prevedel by CIA analysts. Unfortunately, there has been no further information about Douglas Dahill since the date of loss.

For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past VC and NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams operating in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history.

In March 1991, Vietnam returned one tooth, uniform parts and a small quantity of human remains that were purportedly associated with the members of Team 6. A review board determined that the limited quantity of material could not conclude any correlation to SSgt. Newton, Sgt. Prevedel and/or SP4 Dahill.

In April 1991 the US government released a list of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who were known to be alive in enemy hands and for whom there is no evidence that he or she died in captivity. This list, commonly referred to today as the USG's "Last Known Alive" list, included Charles Newton, Charles Prevedel and Douglas Dahill.

Under the circumstances, there is no question that the communists know the fate of the members of Team 6. If they were killed in the firefight with enemy forces, the VC could certainly return their remains to each man's family, friends and country any time they had the desire to do so. However, if they were captured as the intelligence indicates, the fate of Charles Prevedel, Charles Newton and Douglas Dahill; 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.