Remains Identified 05/12/00
Name: Walter Boyd
Rank/Branch: E2/US Marine Corps
Unit: G/2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division
Date of Birth: 17 April 1956
Home City of Record: Norfolk VA
Date of Loss: 15 May 1975
Country of Loss: Cambodia/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 101800N 1030830E (TS965400)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Daniel A. Benedett; Lynn Blessing; Gregory S.
Copenhaver; Andres Garcia; Bernard Gause Jr., James J. Jacques; Ronald J.
Manning; James R. Maxwell; Richard W. Rivenburgh; Antonio R. Sandoval;
Kelton R. Turner; Richard Van de Geer (all missing on CH53A); Gary L. Hall;
Joseph N. Hargrove; Danny G. Marshall (missing on Koah Tang Island); Ashton
N. Loney (missing from Koah Tang Island); Elwood E. Rumbaugh (missing from a
Source: Compiled 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 in 2012.
REMARKS: 750515 MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT LOSS
SYNOPSIS: When U.S. troops were pulled out of Southeast Asia in early 1975,
Vietnamese communist troops began capturing one city after another, with
Hue, Da Nang and Ban Me Thuot in March, Xuan Loc in April, and finally on
April 30, Saigon. In Cambodia, communist Khmer Rouge had captured the
capital city of Phnom Penh on April 17. The last Americans were evacuated
from Saigon during "Option IV", with U.S. Ambassador Martin departing on
April 29. The war, according to President Ford, "was finished."
2Lt. Richard Van de Geer, assigned to the 21st Special Ops Squadron at NKP,
had participated in the evacuation of Saigon, where helicopter pilots were
required to fly from the decks of the 7th Fleet carriers stationed some 500
miles offshore, fly over armed enemy-held territory, collect American and
allied personnel and return to the carriers via the same hazardous route,
heavily loaded with passengers. Van de Geer wrote to a friend, "We pulled
out close to 2,000 people. We couldn't pull out any more because it was
beyond human endurance to go any more..."
At 11:21 a.m. on May 12, the U.S. merchant ship MAYAGUEZ was seized by the
Khmer Rouge in the Gulf of Siam about 60 miles from the Cambodian coastline
and eight miles from Poulo Wai island. The ship, owned by Sea-Land
Corporation, was en route to Sattahip, Thailand from Hong Kong, carrying a
non-arms cargo for military bases in Thailand.
Capt. Charles T. Miller, a veteran of more than 40 years at sea, was on the
bridge. He had steered the ship within the boundaries of international
waters, but the Cambodians had recently claimed territorial waters 90 miles
from the coast of Cambodia. The thirty-nine seamen aboard were taken
President Ford ordered the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA, the guided
missile destroyer USS HENRY B. WILSON and the USS HOLT to the area of
seizure. By night, a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft located the MAYAGUEZ at
anchor off Poulo WaI island. Plans were made to rescue the crew. A
battalion landing team of 1,100 Marines was ordered flown from bases in
Okinawa and the Philippines to assemblE at Utapao, Thailand in preparation
for the assault.
The first casualties of the effort to free the MAYAGUEZ are recorded on May
13 when a helicopter carrying Air Force security team personnel crashed en
route to Utapao, killing all 23 aboard.
Early in the morning of May 13, the Mayaguez was ordered to head for Koh
Tang island. Its crew was loaded aboard a Thai fishing boat and taken first
to Koh Tang, then to the mainland city of Kompong Song, then to Rong San Lem
island. U.S. intelligence had observed a cove with considerable activity on
the island of Koh Tang, a small five-mile long island about 35 miles off the
coast of Cambodia southwest of the city of Sihanoukville (Kampong Saom), and
believed that some of the crew might be held there. They also knew of the
Thai fishing boat, and had observed what appeared to be caucasians aboard
it, but it could not be determined if some or all of the crew was aboard.
The USS HOLT was ordered to seize and secure the MAYAGUEZ, still anchored
off Koh Tang. Marines were to land on the island and rescue any of the crew.
Navy jets from the USS CORAL SEA were to make four strikes on military
installments on the Cambodian mainland.
On May 15, the first wave of 179 Marines headed for the island aboard eight
Air Force "Jolly Green Giant" helicopters. Three Air Force helicopters
unloaded Marines from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines onto the landing pad of
the USS HOLT and then headed back to Utapao to pick up the second wave of
Marines. Planes dropped tear gas on the MAYAGUEZ, and the USS HOLT pulled up
along side the vessel and the Marines stormed aboard. The MAYAGUEZ was
Simultaneously, the Marines of the 2/9 were making their landings on two
other areas of the island. The eastern landing zone was on the cove side
where the Cambodian compound was located. The western landing zone was a
narrow spit of beach about 500 feet behind the compound on the other side of
the island. The Marines hoped to surround the compound.
As the first troops began to unload on both beaches, the Cambodians opened
fire. On the western beach, one helicopter was hit and flew off crippled, to
ditch in the ocean about 1 mile away. The pilot had just disembarked his
passengers, and he was rescued at sea.
Meanwhile, the eastern landing zone had become a disaster. The first two
helicopters landing were met by enemy fire. Ground commander, (now) Col.
Randall W. Austin had been told to expect between 20 and 40 Khmer Rouge
soldiers on the island. Instead, between 150 and 200 were encountered.
First, Lt. John Shramm's helicopter tore apart and crashed into the surf
after the rotor system was hit. All aboard made a dash for the tree line on
One CH53A helicopter was flown by U.S. Air Force Major Howard Corson and
2Lt. Richard Van de Geer and carrying 23 U.S. Marines and 2 U.S. Navy
corpsmen, all from the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. As the helicopter
approached the island, it was caught in a cross fire and hit by a rocket.
The severely damaged helicopter crashed into the sea just off the coast of
the island and exploded. To avoid enemy fire, survivors were forced to swim
out to sea for rescue. Twelve aboard, including Maj. Corson, were rescued.
Those missing from the helicopter were 2Lt. Richard Van de Geer, PFC Daniel
A. Benedett, PFC Lynn Blessing, PFC Walter Boyd, Lcpl. Gregory S.
Copenhaver, Lcpl. Andres Garcia, PFC James J. Jacques, PFC James R. Maxwell,
PFC Richard W. Rivenburgh, PFC Antonio R. Sandoval, PFC Kelton R. Turner,
all U.S. Marines. Also missing were HM1 Bernard Gause, Jr. and HM Ronald J.
Manning, the two corpsmen.
Other helicopters were more successful in landing their passengers. One
CH53A, however was not. SSgt. Elwood E. Rumbaugh's aircraft was near the
coastline when it was shot down. Rumbaugh is the only missing man from the
aircraft. The passengers were safely extracted. (It is not known whether the
passengers went down with the aircraft or whether they were rescued from the
By midmorning, when the Cambodians on the mainland began receiving reports
of the assault, they ordered the crew of the MAYAGUEZ on a Thai boat, and
then left. The MAYAGUEZ crew was recovered by the USS WILSON before the
second wave of Marines was deployed, but the second wave was ordered to
Late in the afternoon, the assault force had consolidated its position on
the western landing zone and the eastern landing zone was evacuated at 6:00
p.m. By the end of the 14-hour operation, most of the Marines were extracted
from the island safely, with 50 wounded. Lcpl. Ashton Loney had been killed
by enemy fire, but his body could not be recovered.
Protecting the perimeter during the final evacuation was the machine gun
squad of PFC Gary L. Hall, Lcpl. Joseph N. Hargrove and Pvt. Danny G.
Marshall. They had run out of ammunition and were ordered to evacuate on the
last helicopter. It was their last contact. Maj. McNemar and Maj. James H.
Davis made a final sweep of the beach before boarding the helicopter and
were unable to locate them. They were declared Missing in Action.
The eighteen men missing from the MAYAGUEZ incident are listed among the
missing from the Vietnam war. Although authorities believe that there are
perhaps hundreds of American prisoners still alive in Southeast Asia from
the war, most are pessimistic about the fates of those captured by the Khmer
In 1988, the communist government of Kampuchea (Cambodia) announced that it
wished to return the remains of several dozen Americans to the United
States. (In fact, the number was higher than the official number of
Americans missing in Cambodia.) Because the U.S. does not officially
recognize the Cambodian government, it has refused to respond directly to
the Cambodians regarding the remains. Cambodia, wishing a direct
acknowledgment from the U.S. Government, still holds the remains.
MIA MARINES IDENTIFIED FROM MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT
Six Marines missing in action from the Vietnam War have been accounted for
and their remains are being returned to their families for burial in the
They are identified as Lance Cpl. Gregory S. Copenhaver, Port Deposit, Md.;
Lance Cpl. Andres Garcia, Carlsbad, N.M.; Pfc. Walter Boyd, Norfolk, Va.;
and Pfc. Kelton R. Turner, Los Angeles, Calif. The names of two Marines are
being withheld at the request of their families.
On May 12, 1975, Khmer Rouge gunboats captured the SS Mayaguez in the Gulf
of Thailand approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of Cambodia. The
vessel was taken to Koh [island] Tang. Alerted to the capture, U.S. Navy
and Air Force aircraft began surveillance flights around the island. After
efforts to secure the release of the ship and its crew failed, U.S. military
forces were ordered to undertake a rescue mission. Three days after the
Mayaguez seizure, six Air Force helicopters were dispatched to the island.
One of the helicopters came under heavy enemy fire as it approached the
eastern beach of the island. The aircraft crashed into the surf with 26 men
on board. Half were rescued at sea, leaving 13 unaccounted-for.
The United States, Cambodian and Vietnamese government efforts to resolve
the cases of these unaccounted-for Marines was massive. Between 1991-99,
U.S. and Cambodian investigators conducted seven joint investigations, led
by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting. Additionally, on three occasions
Cambodian authorities unilaterally turned over remains believed to be those
of American servicemen. In October and November 1995, U.S. and Cambodian
specialists conducted an underwater recovery of the helicopter crash site
where they located numerous remains, personal effects and aircraft debris
associated with the loss. The USS Brunswick, a Navy salvage vessel, enabled
the specialists to conduct their excavation off shore. In addition to the
support provided by the Cambodian government, the Socialist Republic of
Vietnam also interviewed two Vietnamese informants in Ho Chi Minh City who
turned over remains that were later positively identified.
With the accounting of these six Marines, 2,022 Americans remain missing in
action from the Vietnam War. Another 561 have been identified and returned
to their families since the end of the war. Analysis of the remains and
other evidence was made by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory
Hawaii, which also conducted all the remains recovery operations.
The CILHI made extensive use of mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic
identification tools to establish the identity of these men.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the Kingdom
of Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that resulted in the
accounting of these servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring
increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting
for these Americans is of the highest national priority.
On October 9th in Denver Colorado, at Ft. Logan Cemetery,
of PFC. James Jacques will be buried. Additional information
Sometime in October, (after the 9th, date yet to be
will be a Group Burial with full Military Honors, of Koh
from the crash of Knife-31, in Arlington National Cemetery.
individuals who perished in that crash include, our
Benedett, Blessing, Boyd, Copenhaver, Jacques, Garcia, Gause,
Maxwell, Rivenburg, Sandoval, Turner, and Van De Geer.
In 1995 JAPAC recovered many remains from that crash site.
the partial remains of nine of the above were identified and
to their families for burials. In January of this year
recovered remains were identified and as you know, we were
of the recent burials of Manning, Rivenburg, Maxwell and now
These recent identifications were a result of a process
Unilateral Transfer, In some cases remains were collected by
Cambodians and kept by them until recently.
I have been told that the interment in Arlington in October
will be a
single grave for a Group Burial. This will include
identifiable remains of ALL of the above veterans and many
remains that for whatever reason cannot be identified. It is
understanding that the October internment is with the
blessing of the
families of our lost brothers and many family members will
for the ceremony. Our president Al Bailey and myself will be
and we hope that all of you can attend also.
I will provide all additional information as it becomes
We express our heartfelt thanks to the members of, The
Missing Organization, JAPAC, Headquarters Marine Corps, and
the Offices and Staff of Congressman Joe Wilson, Republican.
all their efforts and actions.
Efforts are actively continuing for an accounting, and the
the remains of Hall. Hargrove, Looney, Marshall and Rumbaugh,
veterans of Koh Tang whose remains have not yet been
hope to have additional information soon.
We are so pleased that after many years of efforts and
tears, by so
many, that our brothers can finally Rest In Peace.
These words have NEVER been more true,