DEXTER, RONALD JAMES
Name: Ronald James Dexter
Rank/Branch: E8/US Army Special Forces
Unit: MACV-SOG, Command & Control
Date of Birth: 23 July 1933 (Chicago IL)
Home City of Record: Abilene TX
Date of Loss: 03 June 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161914N 1064049E (XD795050)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: CH46A
Refno: 0720
Other Personnel In Incident: Frank E. Cius (returned POW 1973); Timothy R.
Bodden; John G. Gardner; Stephen P. Hanson; Billy Laney; (all missing); Mr.
Ky (Nung Cdr. - wounded and rescued); Charles F. Wilklow (rescued)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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 2011.
REMARKS: 670729 DIC PER CIUS MC RTNEE
SYNOPSIS: On June 3, 1967, Capt. Steven P. Hanson, pilot; 1Lt. John G.
Gardner, co-pilot; Sgt. Timothy R. Bodden, crew chief/door gunner; LCpl.
Frank E. Cius, doorgunner; SFC Billy R. Laney, SFC Ronald J. Dexter, SFC
Charles F. Wilklow and an unknown number of ARVN personnel, all passengers,
were aboard a CH46A helicopter (serial #150955) on an extraction mission in
Laos.
The USMC aircraft picked up a U.S. Army Special Forces team attached to
MACV-SOG, Command and Control, and the ARVN troops they were working with.
Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG)
was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged
in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special
Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (not a Special Forces group)
through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA) which provided their "cover"
while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep
penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were
called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire"
missions.
The aircraft received extensive automatic small arms fire upon takeoff from
the Landing Zone, took numerous hits and crashed 350 meters from the LZ,
located about 15 miles inside Laos west of the A Shau Valley. The helicopter
did not burn on impact, and continued to receive fire. Three ARVN troops
were able to return to the LZ where the troops remaining at the LZ were
extracted the following day.
The troops waiting at the LZ could not search because of the hostile threat
in the area. Air searches located the survivors of the crash, but they could
not be evacuated. The only America found to be in a position to be safely
evacuated was SFC Wilklow. He gave the following account of what happened to
the crew and passengers aboard the CH46:
SFC Dexter appeared uninjured and left the wreckage with a large number of
ARVN troops. Capt. Hanson was wounded and outside the helicopter, but stated
that he had to return to get his carbine. The Marine Corps believes he died
of the wounds he received when the aircraft was overrun, although Hanson's
wife later identified her husband in a widely distributed Vietnamese
propaganda photograph of a pilot being captured. When last seen, all the
other Americans were still in the wreckage, and enemy troops (the U.S. Army
says they were Viet Cong; the U.S. Marines say they were North Vietnamese
Army - possibly a joint force of both) were tossing grenades toward the
aircraft with no attempt to capture the personnel inside. Wilklow left the
crash site, and noted that gunfire suddenly stopped. He continued to evade
the enemy and was picked up 3 days later.
When Mr. Ky, the Nung Commander was being evacuated by the last helicopter
out, he noted several men (undoubtedly Dexter and the ARVN) in a large bomb
crater firing red star clusters from a flare gun. Frank Cius was taken
prisoner and released from Hanoi in 1973. He was one of the dozen or so
captured by the Vietnamese and taken immediately to Hanoi claimed to be the
"Laos" prisoners. In reality, none of the dozen had been held in Laos.
Ronald Dexter, according to Frank Cius, was captured, and died in captivity
on July 29, 1967. John Gardner, according to the USMC, died on the ground
after the crash of the aircraft due to intense enemy fire. Billy Laney was
last seen lying wounded on the floor of the aircraft between a crewmember
with a broken back and the door gunner with a head wound.
NOTE: the USMC states that Bodden, crewchief/door gunner was shot in the
back and never left the aircraft, but reports received by the National
League of Families indicate that he and Dexter were definitely alive after
the aircraft crashed. The U.S. did not know Cius was captured until he was
released, evidently believing he never exited the aircraft, and Wilklow had
indicated that the Vietnamese were not trying to capture the occupants of
the aircraft. Therefore, as door gunner, he must have been the "door gunner
with the head wound", and Bodden the "crewmember with a broken back".)
Since 1975, the U.S. Government has received thousands of reports relating
to Americans still alive in Southeast Asia. Many of them cannot be dismissed
as untrue. Officially, the U.S. says it is operating under the assumption
that men are being held, and that the matter is of "highest national
priority". Yet, we seem unable to resolve the mystery. Nor have they ever
negotiated for the "tens of tens" of American prisoners the Lao stated they
held.
There can be no question that the communists know the fate of those who were
last seen on the ill-fated CH 46A that day. The men aboard this craft were
inserted into Laos for exceedingly dangerous and important missions. They
deserve no less than America's very best efforts to determine their fates.
If any of them are alive, they must be brought home.
From:  family of Billey Laney 02/2001
03-04 Jun 67 Ronald James Dexter SFC E-7, Abilene, TX; Billy Ray Laney, SFC
E-7, Green Acres City, FL - US Army Special Forces and an unknown number of
SCU Hatchet Force, FOB 1, Phu Bai, Ops 35; and Stephen P. Hanson, Cpt 03,
Pilot, Restful Lake, OH; John 0. Gardner, 1LT 0-3, CO-Pilot, Restful Lake,
OH; and Timothy R. Bodden, SGT E-5, Crew Chief, Downer Grove, ILL- Members
of The United States Marines Corps Aviation, HNMI65, CH46 Helicopter Crew
"Shark Three" Khe Sahn Launch Site, FOB 1, Ops 32 were MIA-Presumptive
finding of death. (A total of 23 Americans were lost; SOG raiders, Air Force
and Marine Pilots and crewman--plus twice as many Nungs). A company size
hatchet force raid, commanded by Maj Jerry Kilburn, operating in Oscar 8
target area, 18-22 KM SE of Khe Sanh, at an azimuth of 220 degrees, and near
Route #922, which contained the largest depot outside of Hanoi, well
defended with belts of antiaircraft guns. The Hatchet Force (HF) arrived at
Khe Sanh, remained overnight at the Launch Site, and inserted early in the
morning. The terrain favored the enemy and the area was within a horseshoe
type land mass. Several hundred SPAR (Special Agent Reports) had been
intercepted from the target area within a 24 hour period. These radio
transmissions were originated by the NVA and were possibly associated with
the Commanding General of their Army Nuyen Van Gaip. At 0545, SGM Billy
William D. "Billy" Waugh boarded an 0-2 aircraft to fly FAC as the Covey
Rider, flying toward the target, staying in the "Gray Forrest" area along
Route #222. At about 0630, the FAC observed the Condensation Trails of nine
(9) B-52's. The FAC performed 360's as the B-52 dropped their load, FAC flew
over the target area, noticed several secondary fires, and actually watched
as the NVA rolled what appeared to be-barrels of gasoline from one of the
burning areas. The NVA were swarming, and immediately took the FAC aircraft
under fire with what was probably a set of 12.7 AA guns. The FAC "hauled
ass" away from the area, and sent a transmission to "scratch the infil, as
the area was crawling with pissed-off NVA." Too late, the transmission did
not make it in time. Due to the high hill range, just to the North of the
LZ, transmissions to the launch site were not completed. The raid began with
an Arc Light, and as soon as the Arc Light was over, the raider company
arrived with the mission to conduct a BDA of the arc light bombing, capture
any WIA NVA, and capture any NVA equipment in the area. The very first
Marine HUEY Gun ship across the intended LZ and was shot down to the south
of the LZ. The first CH-47 (Chinook) with troops, was noticed landing just
to the North of the intended LZ, this bird was shot down as it lowered to
the LZ and broke into two pieces on impact. A second Chinook attempted
landing, and was also shot down, An H-34 (SOG rescue bird) came into the
area, to infiltrate troops, and was shot down, landing to the South of Route
"922. The crew were seen fleeing from this bird, to the West (Subsequently
rescued). The approximate 100 SOG men that were inserted were surrounded and
had taken cover in a few bomb craters. SFC Laney was last seen by SFC
Wilklow, wounded in the back after boarding the a helicopter, the aircraft
was hit by enemy fire, then the pilot was shot, and it veered out of control
and crashed. After the aircraft crashed, it continued to receive heavy fire,
however, many of the personnel were rescued. SFC Laney was last seen still
in the helicopter chest shot and probably dead. Due to the enemy situation,
he was not recovered and a later search produced negative results. Two
A-1E's came into the area, firing their guns, dropping napalm as requested
by the Team Leader. One of the A-1E's was shot through by a hail of green
tracers, and rolled over-crashing without a parachute. The 2nd A-1E was shot
almost to pieces, but the fine pilot managed to land that bird at the Khe
Sanh airstrip (a hell of a feat). Two F-4's were performing close air
support, with one being blasted right in his forward portion, causing that
bird to crash. All this occurred within 30 minutes of the insert. During the
initial day of insert, rescue attempts were made to recover the WIA. Early
morning of the second day, the remainder of the Hatchet Force members were
picked up. The NVA were silent that day, as it appeared the NVA were
encouraging an exfiltration due to the 30-50 airstrikes they had endured.
SFC Dexter was last seen exiting a downed CH-46 helicopter and taken as a
Prisoner of War, but never reached North Vietnam alive. A report obtained
from a captured Nung Commando who was later released tells of Cpt Hanson, Lt
Gardner, and Sgt Bodden being executed by the North Vietnamese Soldiers. Of
the six Americans MIAs, only USMC Lance Corporal Frank E. Cius, Jr. was
confirmed by Hanoi. After Cius's release in 1973, he told Dexter's brother
that Ronald Dexter had been captured but died in enemy hands. Note: SFC
Charles Wilklow was wounded and in enemy hands. The enemy used him as bait
to try and bring in aircraft to rescue him. The enemy tended to ignore him,
thinking he was no risk due to his condition. He had observed NVA in
formations, giving orders, etc., expecting to die any minute. After the 4th
day with maggots in his open wound, barely clinging to life, he somehow
managed to crawl away during the night. Around mid day, the following day a
FAC flew overhead and SGM Waugh observed a body with a panel over it and
when the FAC made a second pass, the body sat up and SGM Waugh recognized it
was an American. When Wilklow came to, he was looking into the face of SSG
Roy Pace, a Black American, who had performed a one man bright light by
repelling in to rescue him. Wilklow was wearing a STABO rig and was
extracted by string.
 

Date: Sun, 29 May 2011 21:54:57 -0400
Subject: Charles Wilklow - Roy Pace
From: Bakari Pace


The Staff Sergent that saved Charlie Wilklow was my father, Staff Sergent
Lester Pace Jr. - not Roy Pace.

--
Bakari Pace