PADILLA, DAVID ESEQUIEL Name: David Esequiel Padilla Rank/Branch: E3/USMC Unit: E Company, 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division Date of Birth: 01 May 1947 (Santa Rosa NM) Home City of Record: Borger TX Date of Loss: 18 May 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 163813N 1064116E (XD800400) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 1180 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 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 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal David E. Padilla arrived in Vietnam on May 16, 1967. He had only a short time to serve when he was sent on a several-day reconnaissance patrol in the Khe Sanh area of Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. Padilla was a member of E Company, 3rd Recon Battalion. The events of the patrol are cloudy. Several teammembers were killed or wounded in unspecified action, probably against the NVA 27th Independent Battalion, which had been observed operating in the Camp Carroll area. One fellow Marine, wishing more information about Padilla's fate, filed a Freedom of Information request through the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps responded that they have no official documents describing the events of the action, and forwarded a DD Form 1300, Report of Casualty, containing releasable information on LCPL Padilla. According to the DD Form 1300, Padilla "died 18 May 1968 Quang Tri Province Republic of Vietnam result multiple wounds to the entire body from hostile mortar fire while on a reconnaissance patrol." The Marine was not satisfied, and requested information from the History and Museums Division of the Department of the Navy. The action chronology of the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion shows the following statistics (but provides no details of the actions): During the month of May, 1968, Company E conducted 36 patrols averaging 3.62 days with an average of 7.53 men per patrol. The patrols made seven [enemy] sightings for a total of 31 enemy, which resulted in six contacts and five fire missions of 133 artillery rounds...There was a total of five USMC KIA [killed in action] and one USN WIA [wounded in action]." Company E, while operating in the vicinity of XD 8849 (roughly, the Khe Sanh area), conducted 68 1/2 hours of reconnaissance resulting in one sighting of five enemy and one contact with approximately 25 enemy. The contact resulted in three USMC KIA, two USMC WIA and one USN WIA. Company E was joined at the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Command at Khe Sanh by Companies A, B, C, D and H & S Company. The combined total number KIA during the month of May, 1968 from these other companies was one. During the month of May, Company E had suffered five KIA, over 80% of the combat deaths of the entire battalion, and the Marines had no records of the actions. The Marines listed David E. Padilla as killed in action, body not recovered. He is listed with honor among the missing because no remains were returned to his country for burial. In death, as in war, David E. Padilla is a statistic. The Marines did not bother to keep on file the events which chronicled his last hours on earth. Families and friends of the missing are continually frustrated in attempts to learn details of the loss of American servicemen. When records do exist, they are all-too-frequently classified. Some families have learned they will have to wait half a century before the records of their loved one are declassified. Until then, they must wonder and wait. Tragically, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government since 1975. Much of this information is classified, but many officials who have reviewed it believe hundreds of Americans are still alive, held captive, today. If, as U.S. policy seems to indicate, all the men missing in Southeast Asia are dead, what harm could come by releasing information to their friends and family? If, on the other hand, Americans are still alive, why hasn't our government stepped out from behind this "classified curtain" to bring them home?