WONG, EDWARD PUCK KOW, JR.

Name: Edward Puck Kow Wong, Jr. 
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army 
Unit: 57th Assault Helicopter Company, 
17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade 

Date of Birth: 25 February 1953 (Guam)
Home of Record: Oakland, CA
Date of Loss: 27 March 1972 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: .162127N 1074739E (YB985104)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H "Iroquois"
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "Slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.

On 27 March 1972, CW2 Larry J. Woods, pilot; 2nd Lt. Ngo Binh Quan, co-pilot; SP4 Dennis A. Hannon, crew chief; and then SP4 Edward P. K. Wong, door gunner; comprised the crew of a UH1H helicopter (tail #67-17841). Their mission was to rescue the crew of a downed Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) helicopter that had crashed at a landing zone (LZ) in the hotly contested forested mountains approximately 6 miles south-southwest of Dak To, Kontum Province, South Vietnam. Further, the LZ was located 14 miles west-northwest of the tri-border area where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia join. Also on board were Capt. Lyle R. Rhoads, Jr, a US Army advisor; and Capt. Nguyen Duc Phuc, ground commander of the ARVN 3rd Battalion, 47th Regiment.

As the rescue helicopter descended to make the pickup, accompanying Huey gunships initiated an attack pass to suppress enemy ground fire. As the aircraft was landing, it received heavy and accurate enemy automatic weapons fire, crashed, rolled down a hill, and came to rest upside down. The two passengers exited the helicopter immediately. Capt. Rhoads stated that he saw both pilots and the crew chief get out of the helicopter, but did not see SP4 Wong leave it.

SP4 Hannon reported that after exiting the helicopter, he saw SP4 Wong as he moved uphill; that the door gunner had a cut on his head and both legs were bleeding. A short time later, Capt. Rhoads asked the ARVN ground commander about the whereabouts of the other Americans. He indicated the location of the crew chief downhill, that the American pilot was still in the area of the aircraft, and that the other crewman was up the hill from the crash site. Later, when the survivors were preparing to walk to Fire Support Base Charlie, an estimated 2 kilometers to the east of the LZ, Capt. Rhoads saw a poncho liner/stretcher on which SP4 Wong allegedly was lying. Capt. Rhoads did not see his face, but saw his right hand holding the litter pole. On his right hand was what appeared to be a high school class ring.

At 1600 hours, the ARVN unit and surviving Americans joined a relief company from Fire Support Base Charlie, and departed the crash site/LZ. At some unspecified point along the trail, the litter bearers and the litter carrying SP4 Wong were seen by SP4 Hannon as they were resting along the trail. This is the last time the litter was seen by any of the surviving Americans.

At about 1830 hours, an orbiting gunship saw one individual wearing black clothing standing on the landing zone waving a piece of white cloth. Fifteen feet away from this man were four or five more individuals hiding in a bush hedge. They were also wearing black or dark clothing. The gunship pilot questioned Capt. Rhoads by radio about the location of friendly forces. After being assured twice that all friendlies were off the LZ, the pilot opened fire with rockets hitting the group.

Upon reaching Fire Support Base Charlie, the American and ARVN casualties were loaded aboard one US Army and two VNAF medivac helicopters. It was reported at that time that Edward Wong had been loaded on one of the VNAF helicopters instead of the US helicopter by mistake. Searches were made in the ARVN hospital where the wounded and dead from this incident were taken; however, SP4 Wong was not found.

Efforts were made on 28 and 29 March to conduct a ground search of the LZ, surrounding area and the trail taken by the survivors as they moved toward Fire Support Base Charlie. A thorough search of these locations was not possible due to the continuing enemy presence in the area. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, Edward P. K. Wong was listed Missing in Action.

"Living with the face of the enemy" is a fact of life that Asian Americans faced in World War II and Korea, as well as in Vietnam. Above all else, these men and women were proud to be Americans. They served their country with the same honor and courage as Americans of other nationalities, but they did so under more difficult circumstances because of their appearance.

There is no question the Vietnamese know what happened to Edward Wong. If he died as a result of his injuries, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. If he survived, there is no question he would have been captured by enemy troops known to be in the area of the landing zone, and his fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way the communists can account for SP4 Wong any time they have 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.

American military men in Vietnam were call upon to fly and 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.