SCHUMANN, JOHN ROBERT

Name: John Robert Schumann
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Army 
Unit: Headquarters, 
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam 

Date of Birth: 2 Feb 1932 
Home of Record: Cokato, MN 
Date of Loss: 16 June 1965 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 102231N 1060107E (XS115470)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Prisoner of War/Died in Captivity
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Jeep 
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 

REMARKS:  660707 RRS SAY DIED - J

SYNOPSIS:  On 16 June 1965 Capt. John R. Schumann, was assigned as an advisor to the Cai Be District Chief, Dinh Tuong Province. Capt. Schumann was in a densely populated area laced with rivers, canals, waterways and rice fields on the north side of a primary canal that ran from the northwest to the southeast and flowed into the Song Tien Giang River when he was captured by VC guerrillas. Afterward, the VC moved him north to a camp in Tay Ninh Province. The location of capture was approximately 3 miles north of the Song Tien Giang River, 4 miles northwest of the town of Sung Hieu that set on the north bank of the river, 32 miles south of the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border, 44 miles southwest of Khiem Cuong and 49 miles southwest of Saigon, Tinh Tuong Province, South Vietnam.

When John Schumann arrived at the POW camp, he soon learned two other Americans were already imprisoned there. One of them was US Army advisor Pvt. Charles E. Crafts who were captured on 29 December 1964, and the second was US Marine Corps advisor Capt. Donald G. Cook who was captured on 31 December 1964. They were held in several camps constructed deep within enemy-held territory and all hidden in the dense jungle of extreme southern South Vietnam. The camps were also located between the area of capture near the coast to the Cambodian border.

Some of the camps were actually way stations the VC used for various reasons, others were regular POW camps. Regardless of size and function, conditions in them frequently included the prisoners' being tied at night to their bamboo bunks anchored by rope to a post in their small bamboo shelters. In others they were held in bamboo cages, commonly known as tiger cages. In yet other camps the dense jungle itself provided the bars to their cage.

There was rarely enough food and water to sustain them, and as a result, the Americans suffered a wide variety of illnesses in addition to their injuries and wounds. The Americans were being moved toward the west where they would join another group of American POWs, referred to as "The Camacho Group" and so named for SFC Issac Camacho, the senior POW in the group.

In July 1965, elements of the ARVN's 7th Infantry Division capture Viet Cong documents, including photographs, otched it weather "an almost unbelievable hail of small arms and automatic weapons fire. Tracers streamed into the perimeter and bounced around like popcorn." Minutes later the helicopter completed loading the last of the Americans. As the aircraft lifted off, Major Hendricks looked back at the island and later reported, "The last thing I saw was the half circle of the perimeter blazing away at the larger circle of fire surrounding it."

Finally, the last of the total force of 231 Marines, Airmen and Sailors who landed on Koh Tang Island were withdrawn by helicopter at 2000 hours in one of the most dramatic wartime rescues ever conducted. By the time Operation Mayaguez was over, 3 helicopters had been shot down, 6 received severe damage, 3 others were heavily damaged and only one was still flyable. 18 men were unaccounted for and at least 3 of them were known alive on the ground earlier in the day. Because the landing force was transferred piecemeal to the three ships that comprised the battle group; it was not learned until the next day that Gary Hall, Danny Marshall and Joseph Hargrove were not among the evacuees. Further, once the mission commanders' realized the three men were inadvertently left on the island, they also learned the three were alive and uninjured when last seen late in the late afternoon. At the time the military determined that the machinegun crew had in fact been abandoned on Koh Tang Island, Danny Marshall, Gary Hall and Joseph Hargrove were listed Missing in Action.

In 1988 a Cambodian source related that "a Marine had been wounded 10 days after the Koh Tang Island assault. The Marine was captured while apparently scavenging for food or water near the edge of the Khmer encampment. The Khmer Deputy Commander had been called. He arrived and summarily executed the Marine." The source provided unusually specific details regarding the Marine's burial including that the body was located "close to a stream, on the eastern side of the island between a well and two Sone trees." Also in 1988, the communist government of Cambodia announced that it wished to return the remains of several dozen Americans to the United States. However, because the US did not officially recognize the Cambodian government, it refused to respond directly to the Cambodians regarding the remains they offered.

In 1995, the first of three teams from the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) was allowed onto Koh Tang Island to search for the remains of the 18 Americans who lost their lives or were listed Missing in Action in Operation Mayaguez. As part of the JTFFA contingent, a salvage crew from the USS Brunswick, the first US military vessel allowed to penetrate Cambodian waters since the end of the war, began pulling pieces of Knife 31 to the shore. Over the recovery site, the team placed 8 feet by 16 feet open boxes made of steel plates to stabilize the search area and to prevent outside sand and other material from backfilling the recovery site. On the surface two work boats containing diesel engines connected to 10-inch suction hoses drew layer of debris from beneath the steel boxes and deposited the material onto screening tables set up on makeshift barges. From inside and under sections of the helicopter came teeth along with arm, leg, finger, rib and jaw bones - 161 specimens in all, plus 144 personal items and 101 pieces of equipment mixed in with live and exploded ammunition. One recovered thighbone had shattered 6 inches below the hip and the injury occurred before or at the time of death. According to JTFFA members, that single bone forcefully and painfully brought home the level of suffering these men endured in the last moments before Knife 31 slipped below the shallow water just off the east beach landing zone.

Once the team was assured they recovered everything possible from Knife 31, the search effort shifted to the waters off the west beach for the wreckage of Knife 21 and the remains of SSgt. Rumbaugh. US Navy divers from the USS Brunswick searched the deep water approximately 1 mile to the west of the west beach where Knife 23 was lost. Over the next three hours the divers searched the area, but found no trace of the aircraft or the miss