ANTUNANO, GREGORY ALFRED
Name: Gregory Alfred Antunano Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Unit: Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry (Air Cavalry), 12th Aviation Group Date of Birth: 18 May 1949 Home City of Record: San Francisco CA Date of Loss: 24 July 1971 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 120327N 1063522E (XU730333) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A Refno: 1762 Other Personnel in Incident: Randall D. Dalton (missing); Timothy G. Wiltrout (rescued)
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 2001.
SYNOPSIS: The 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry was part of the 12th Aviation Group during its service in Vietnam. It was responsible for air cavalry support in the western part of III Corps Tactical Zone. In late 1970 it was placed under the operational control of the 1st Cavalry Division to form a highly successful ad hoc air cavalry brigade.
On July 24, 1971, WO1 Timothy G. Wiltrout, pilot; Sgt. Gregory A. Antunano, observer; and SP4 Randall D. Dalton, door gunner; were crew members on an OH6A "Loach" observation helicopter (serial #17-257) which was shot down by enemy fire while on a reconnaissance mission in Cambodia. The aircraft went down about 5 miles inside Cambodia, in Kracheh Province, just a few miles southeast of the city of Snuol.
When rescuers arrived at the crash site, they found the pilot outside the downed aircraft. He suffered a broken leg in the incident, but was otherwise unhurt. The other two crew members were still strapped in their seats inside the wreckage. Both were taken out of the helicopter and at that time, SP4 Dalton was still alive. Sgt. Antunano was believed to be dead.
A short time later, SP4 Dalton stopped breathing. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. The medic checked both Dalton and Antunano several times, and told other rescuers that they were dead.
As enemy soldiers began moving into the area, search and rescue aircraft evacuated the rescue team and Wiltrout, the pilot. Because of enemy presence, no attempt was made to extract the two bodies. They were left lying near the downed helicopter.
The following day, several SAR aircraft returned to the location in an attempt to recover Antunano and Dalton, but noted that the aircraft had been stripped and moved several feet. Personal effects of the crew, such as their helmets, weapons and the aircraft radio had also been removed. Sgt. Antunano and SP4 Dalton's bodies were gone. A search of the area from the air did not reveal fresh graves or any sign of the two men.
Antunano and Dalton's bodies were never found. They are listed with honor among the missing because their remains are still on enemy soil. For other missing Americans, simple resolution is not possible. Some were in radio contact with would-be rescuers - some simply did not return from missions. Others were known prisoners who disappeared from prison systems and were not released at the end of the war.
"Several million documents" and 250,000 interviews have convinced many officials that Americans were left behind in Vietnam and that some remain alive today. Some number those alive in the hundreds. While Dalton and Antunano may not be among them, if there is even one American left alive, we must do everything possible to bring him home.
Before his loss, Antunano was awarded The DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), Bronze Star Medal w/ Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal w/ "V" devise for Heroism w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, NDSM (National Defense Service Medal), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea), Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, CIB (Combat Infantry Badge), Aircraft Crewman Badge and the Expert Badge w/ Pistol
Posthumously Awarded: DFC w Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal w/ 2nd thru 7th Award, and the Purple Heart w/ Oak Leaf Cluster.