TRUJILLO, ROBERT STEVEN

Name: Robert Steven Trujillo 
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army 
Unit: Company A, 2nd Battalion, 
12th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 
1st Cavalry Division 

Date of Birth: 03 August 1946
Home of Record: Santa Fe, NM
Date of Loss: 07 January 1968 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 154047N 1081351E (BT032353)
Click coordinates to view (4) maps

Status in 1973: Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: James M. Stone (missing) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:  On 7 January 1968, 1st Lt. James M. Stone was assigned to Company C, and then  PFC Robert S. Trujillo was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Their respective companies were participating in a search and destroy operation to route a large Viet Cong (VC) contingent known to be operating in the northwest section of the densely populated and hotly contested Que Son Valley, referred to by the Americans as the Rue Son Valley, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.

Highway 535 formed generally a wide "V" shape as it ran through the northwest edge of the Ru Son Valley. The battle site was roughly 1 mile north of the bottom of the "V" with the arms of the "V" running 12 miles northwest to Khung Trung, then 4 miles north to An Hoa; and 9 miles northeast to Highway 1. The northwest arm of the "V" ran through mountains on both sides. The northeast arm skirted the mountains/mountain foothills and the Rue Son Valley laced with rice fields, patches of elephant grass and dotted with small villages throughout the region.

As the Americans moved through the rice fields south of mountain foothills approximately ½ mile north of Highway 535, 12 miles southeast of An Hoa, 18 miles northwest of Tam Ky and 25 miles south of DaNang, they were surrounded and attacked by a hostile force of unknown size. During the ensuing firefight, the mission commander determined their position was no longer defendable and ordered a break out maneuver in order to withdraw to a more favorable battle area.

In the initial stage of the breakout, James Stone was moving behind one of the Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) when he was struck in the head by a burst of machine gun fire. Almost immediately a combat medic checked him for signs of life, but found none. In the chaos of battle, the medic reported he believed that James Stone was dead before moving on to treat other wounded soldiers. Further, due to the continuing running gun battle that raged around them, the others were unable to take the bodies of the dead with them as they withdrew under fire.

Also in the initial stage of the breakout, Robert Trujillo was ordered to move out behind the APC nearest his position. When last seen, he was standing upright and advancing with other troops along side and behind another APC. After the battle, a headcount was taken and it was discovered that PFC Trujillo was missing.

On 8 January 1968, a search and recovery (SAR) team was inserted into the Rue Son Valley to search for the missing and recover the dead. While they recovered the remains of other soldiers killed in this battle, they found no trace of 1st Lt. Stone or PFC Trujillo in or around the ambush site. At the time the search effort was terminated, James Stone was reported as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered and Robert Trujillo was reported as Missing in Action.

If James Stone and Robert Trujillo died in combat, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if they survived, they most certainly would have been captured and their 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 have the answers and could return them or their remains any time they had the desire to do so.

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 America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

American military men 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.