TAYLOR, FRED

Name: Fred Taylor 
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army 
Unit: Detachment B-52 
5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces 
Date of Birth: 02 November 1932 
Home of Record: Castlewood, VA
Date of Loss: 13 July 1965 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 140342N 1083335E (BR365558)
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Henry J. Gallant 

REMARKS:  CUT OFF F ARVN - A/G SERCH NEG - J

SYNOPSIS:  On 15 May 1964, Project DELTA, originally called Project LEAPING LENA, was initiated as a cover operation in Vietnam with one US Special Forces A-Detachment training the CIDG irregular force units and Vietnamese Special Forces in the conduct of long range reconnaissance patrols (LRRP) and was located at Nha Trang, South Vietnam. By June 1965, 5th Special Forces Group assumed a more active role in Project DELTA and detachment B-52 was organized for command and control. Its mission encompassed location of enemy units, intelligence, bomb damage assessment (BDA), artillery/air strike coordination, hunter/killer missions, special purposed raids and conducting harassing and deception missions. It had the capacity of deploying into any tactical zone when directed by the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff and MACV. On 15 September 1966, Project DELTA took on the additional duty of training LRRP tactics to other US Infantry units.

On 11 July 1965, MSgt. Henry J. Gallant and SFC Fred Taylor were advisors to Team 2, an 8-man South Vietnamese Special Forces long range reconnaissance patrol under the auspices of Project DELTA. The team was inserted by helicopter into its area of operation to gather intelligence north of Highway 19 prior to a large scale operation to reopen that route and was located approximately 40 miles southwest of Kontum and 48 miles northwest of Qui Nhon, Dien Bien Province, South Vietnam.

At approximately 1600 hours on 13 July 1965, the team was ambushed by an enemy force of unknown size as it moved through jungle foliage on the south side of a mountain approximately 5 miles north of Highway 19. The initial burst of enemy gunfire caused the team to split up with Fred Taylor, Henry Gallant and a South Vietnamese soldier in one group and the other 7 team members in another. SFC Taylor immediately established radio contact with friendly forces apprising them of the team's location and requesting an emergency extraction.

As the intense battle raged around them, Henry Gallant suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach, although its severity was not known. Shortly thereafter the team members determined their defensive positions were untenable and initiated escape and evasion tactics. The last time MSgt. Gallant and SFC Taylor were seen, Fred Taylor was helping Henry Gallant into the surrounding jungle as hostile forces pressed toward them.

Immediately a search and rescue (SAR) operation commenced for the missing team. Over the next few days SAR personnel using both air and ground assets successfully recovered five of the Vietnamese team members alive, but were unable to locate any trace of SFC Taylor, MSgt. Gallant or the other three indigenous personnel. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, Henry Gallant and Fred Taylor were reported as Missing in Action.

In July 1966, one year after loss, a Board of Inquiry was convened to examine all known fact and circumstances surrounding the loss of MSgt. Gallant and SFC Taylor. After examining the witness debriefing statements and other relevant information, the Board determined the missing men's status should be downgraded to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

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 both Henry Gallant and Fred Taylor.

There is no question that MSgt. Gallant was wounded during the firefight and that SFC Taylor was uninjured when last seen. There is also no question that communist forces were in close pursuit. If Henry Gallant and Fred Taylor died while escaping, 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 know what happened and could return them or their 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 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.