Name: Melvin Douglas Seagraves 
Rank/Branch: Seaman/US Navy 
Unit: USS Tripoli (LPH-10) 
Date of Birth: 09 April 1951 (Amarillo, TX)
Home of Record: Albuquerque, NM
Date of Loss: 30 April 1972 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over water
Loss Coordinates: 170000N 1083000E 
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: At Sea
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 


SYNOPSIS:   On 30 April 1972, Seaman Melvin D. Seagraves was assigned as a member of ship's company of the USS Tripoli, a small helicopter carrier that was designated by the US Navy as "Landing Pad Helicopter - 10" (LPH-10). The ship was part of the Naval task force stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Seaman Seagraves was last seen aboard the USS Tripoli while off duty between 1200 and 1230 hours. He was not seen again or missed until he failed to report for his regularly scheduled 2-hour watch at 1800 hours. When he failed to report as scheduled, the duty officer reported Melvin Seagraves missing.

Shortly thereafter an extensive aerial and sea search and rescue/recovery (SAR) operation of the area traversed by the ship between the time he was last seen and the time he was reported missing was immediately initiated. At the same time, a complete and thorough search of the USS Tripoli was conducted. Unfortunately, all search efforts failed to reveal any trace of the missing sailor.

Wind and sea conditions were calm, the ship's speed was five knots, and the closest point of land was 24 miles to the west. Flight operations were being conducted in the afternoon and multiple helicopter logistics flights to other ships in the force arrived and departed the USS Tripoli's flight deck. Embarkation on these flights was positively controlled by manifest and boarding pass.

As part of the Navy's continued investigation into Seaman Seagraves' disappearance, the young sailor's military record was reviewed. It revealed he had established a good record while in the US Navy. His quarters and personal gear was examined, but nothing was found to be out of place or missing. Statements were also collected from his division officer, shipmates and friends. These interviews indicated that Melvin Seagraves was concerned about a personal problem, but found nothing that indicated he voluntarily departed his ship.

The US Navy convened a Board of Inquiry to evaluate all the known facts of Seaman Seagraves disappearance. After examining all the known details of the case and taking testimony from other crewmen, the Board ruled that Melvin D. Seagraves was "presumed to have been lost at sea." It further determined "he died on 30 April 1972," the same day he vanished.

The hard reality is that if Melvin Seagraves was lost at sea, there is virtually no chance that his remains can ever be recovered due to the type and location of loss. However, he has the right not to be forgotten by the nation for which he gave his life. 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 called upon to operate 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.