STATUS CHANGED FROM AWOL TO MIA TO PFOD 03/81 - ADDED TO WALL 11/89 REMAINS ID - 24 SEPT 92
Name: Wilbert Walton Rank/Branch: E1/US Army Unit: Battery C., 3rd Battalion, 16th Artillery, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) Date of Birth: 15 March 1947 Home City of Record: Fayetteville NC Date of Loss: 03 January 1970 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: BT530050 Status (in 1973): Absent Without Leave (AWOL) Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: ground Refno: 2055 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance of 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.
SYNOPSIS: In late 1969, Pvt. Wilbert Walton was court martialed for falling asleep on guard and failure to appear at his post. On January 3, 1970, Walton disappeared from his artillery unit in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam.
Others in the unit speculated that Walton might have disappeared because of a minor incident that had occurred about a month before at the battalion's motor pool. Walton had already been reprimanded once, and may have been apprehensive about future punishment because of this minor incident. No punishment was planned, according to his superiors.
For the next month the Army, Walton's parents, and Congressmen tried to locate Wilbert Walton without success. The Army removed him from the rolls in February 1970, and the last notation in his record was that he deserted.
The Army can find no record indicating where or by whom Walton was last seen. The Army does not know if Walton was involved in combat, or simply on leave at the time he was lost. One veteran said, "People don't understand what was going on over there. [Walton] could have been snatched off the streets by the Viet Cong. He could have wandered into the wrong village. Categorizing this guy as a deserter was like convicting him without a trial."
In 1981, an administrative review was conducted of Walton's case, and it was determined that there was not enough evidence that Walton deserted, and his status was changed to Missing in Action, Presumed Dead. AWOL is not an easily changed status, and Walton's record, after over ten years, is cleared. Wilbert Walton's name was added to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Veteran's Day, 1989. He is listed among roughly 58,000 Americans who lost their lives in Southeast Asia.
Also listed among the 58,000 are the majority of those Americans who remain Prisoner of War or Missing in Action. As reports mount relating to these men, many Americans wonder why their names are inscribed on a memorial to the dead. Many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive, held against their will in Southeast Asia today. No one really knows what happened to Wilbert Walton on January 3, 1970. He could be one of those thought to be alive. It's time we brought our men home.