ALMENDARIZ, SAMUEL Name: Samuel Almendariz Rank/Branch: E7/US Army Special Forces Unit: C & C Detachment 5th SFG ABN 1 SF Date of Birth: 10 May 1934 (Texas City TX) Home City of Record: McAllen TX Date of Loss: 12 July 1967 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 161901N 1070216E (YD177031) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: ground Refno: 0763 Other Personnel In Incident: Robert J. Sullivan (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: During their war with the French, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong (then called Viet Minh) discovered that the ideal way to keep supplies and troops moving between the two parts of the country was to move through the neutral countries of Laos and Cambodia. During U.S. involvement in Indochina, the United States was forbidden to conduct war there because of the 1962 Geneva accords which protected the two countries' neutrality. It became apparent, however, that clandestine operations had to be conducted in Laos and Cambodia to prevent the enemy from having a free hand in troop and equipment mobility. At first these operations were very secret, to the extent that records were "altered" to show operations in South Vietnam, but later in the war were conducted with relative openness. SFC Almendariz and SFC Sullivan were on such a mission in Laos on 12 July, 1967. Their reconnaissance team, consisting of three Americans and 8 indigenous personnel, was operating just inside Laos in the extreme southeast portion of Savannakhet Province when the team came under attack. From 1100 hours until 1600 hours that day, the team was under heavy attack and attempting to evade. Only one of the Americans was rescued, and he reported that both Almendariz and Sullivan had been mortally wounded. On July 16, a search force went back to the area of contact, but were unable to locate the bodies of either man. Almendariz and Sullivan were listed as killed, body not recovered. Almendariz and Sullivan are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Although the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of prisoners, not one prisoner held in Laos was ever released. Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy. Although Almendariz and Sullivan, apparently, are not among them, they could be accounted for. More importantly, anyone who is still alive must be brought home.