SMALL, BURT CHAUNCEY JR.

Name: Burt Chauncy Small, Jr. 
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army 
Unit: C Company,
Advisory Detachment A-108, 
5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces 
Date of Birth: 02 September 1946 (Long Beach, CA)
Home of Record: Savannah, GA
Date of Loss: 06 March 1967 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 145918N 1084233E (BS537582)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Prisoner of War 
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Jacob G. Roth, Jr. (rescued); 2 unnamed advisors (killed, bodies recovered) 

REMARKS:
LEG WOUND - CAPTURED

SYNOPSIS: In January 1966, at the age of 17, Burt C. Small. Jr. enlisted in the Army with his brother. He took basic training at Ft. Gordon, GA and then transferred to Ft. Benning, GA for advanced specialized training followed by airborne training. While at Ft. Benning, Burt Small also took and passed all the tests for Special Forces and was allowed to complete that training, but because of his age, he did not receive his Beret until September 1966 after arriving in Vietnam.

Trained as a psyops specialist, SP Small was assigned to C Company, Advisory Detachment A-108, to advise the 142nd CIDG Company, a 35-man strong irregular force unit. His duties included training the CIDG soldiers and accompanying them on missions.

On 6 March 1967, then Spec. Burt Small, Sgt. Jacob Roth, Jr. and 2 additional American advisors accompanied a 20-man CIDG patrol on a combat mission in a heavily populated and hotly contested sector southwest of major coastal city of Quang Ngai, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. As the patrol moved along the southern and western edge of major rice fields located on the northern and eastern edge of mountain foothills near the village of Minh Long, it was ambushed by an enemy force of unknown size. The location of the battle site was also 7 miles south-southwest of  Quang Ngai and 13 miles due west of the coastline.

Immediately the Americans established radio contact with their detachment apprizing them of the situation and requesting assistance. During the fierce but brief skirmish that followed, both Spec. Small and Sgt. Roth tried to stop their South Vietnamese radio operator from fleeing. In the chaos that followed, two of the advisers and a number of the CIDG troops were killed and Burt Small was wounded in the left leg. Unable to stem the communist advance, Sgt. Roth and a handful of the other survivors withdrew from the ambush site under fire. Jacob Roth and the other survivors were extracted by helicopter roughly 150 meters away from the ambush site.

At the same time Jacob Roth and the others were rescued, a 3 1/2 hour aerial search and rescue (SAR) operation of the entire sector was conducted for Spec. Small and the CIDG troops who were also missing. Three days later, on 9 March 1967, a search and rescue/recovery (SAR) team was inserted into the ambush site. SAR personnel successfully found and recovered the remains of the two advisors and the CIDG soldiers who were killed during this operation. The bodies were transported to a US mortuary where they were positively identified before being returned to their families for burial shortly thereafter. SAR personnel found no trace of Burt Small or his equipment in or around the ambush site. At the time the formal search was terminated, Burt Small was reported as Missing in Action.

Later a CIDG soldier escaped from his communist captors. When he returned to base, he reported that Spec. Small had also been captured by North Vietnamese troops and he saw the advisor being led away from the ambush site by 4 NVA soldiers. The US Army immediately upgraded Burt Small's status from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War.

In September 1979, PFC Robert "Bobby" Garwood, a Prisoner of War captured in South Vietnam and being held in North Vietnam, was able to slip a note to a Finnish diplomat, and by doing so, ultimately gained his freedom. According to PFC Garwood upon his return to the United States, his Vietnamese captors questioned him about Burt Small. Among other things, they asked if Burt Small was a relative of his. Bobby Garwood believed the question was asked because the two men had similar facial features.

After the end of hostilities, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) sent a team to Quang Ngai Province to conduct field investigations in the sector in which Spec. Small was captured. Team members questioned villagers living in and around the ambush sector and received information that Burt Small had been captured and was wounded at the time of capture. The JCRC personnel also learned that all members of the NVA unit that captured him were reportedly deceased.

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 Burt Small.

There is no question that Burt Small was captured and a Prisoner of War under the direct control of the North Vietnamese Army who was actively operating in this sector of South Vietnam. If he died in captivity, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he survived, this highly trained and experienced soldier's fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is no doubt the Vietnamese know the answers and could return him or his remains any time they had the desire to do so.

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 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.