Name: James Derwin Cohron
Rank/Branch: E6/US Army 5th Special Forces
Unit: C & C Detachment, MACV-SOG
Date of Birth: 11 November 1938 (Leon IA)
Home City of Record: Centerville IA
Date of Loss: 12 January 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162745N 1064800E (XD929208)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 0984
Other Personnel In Incident: 2 indigenous personnel


Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: James D. Cohron was born in Leon, Iowa and joined the service when
he was 25. When he went to Vietnam, he was attached to MACV-SOG (Military
Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group), Command &
Control North. 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
(although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations
Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders
to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic
reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time
frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.

On January 12, 1968, SSgt. Cohron, was a member of Spike Team "Indiana," the
second man from the rear of the team formation, when the team was ambushed
by an enemy force of unknown size 1 mile inside Laos south of Khe Sanh. The
team broke contact by evading through a gully and set up a defensive
position on a small hill where they called for helicopter extraction.

A head count was taken, and it was determined that Cohron and two indigenous
personnel were missing. The team's view of their path of evasion was
obstructed by tall elephant grass, and they were unable to visually locate
Cohron and the others. Attempts to raise them by radio failed. After contact
with the enemy force was broken, the remainder of the team was extracted.

In the ensuing days, searches were made which yielded a small spot of blood
where the initial contact was made, and Cohran's food ration, which was
identified by the empty cigarette package. Search efforts were terminated
without success.

Cohron is one of nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Although the
Lao stated they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one man held
in Laos was ever released - or negotiated for. With evidence mounting that
hundreds of these men could still be alive, the question rises, "Where is
James Cohron?"


James Derwin Cohron E6/Army 5th SF Unit C&CMACV-SOGLaos-MIA
From: (Naso)

Hello, I am compiling a file on James Derwin Cohron for his two children, I
am their mother. I have delved into what happened to Jim when he was on a
mission in Laos in 1968, off and on.  I have not had much luck on finding
out what happened to him.  I have read the reports from the Library of
Congress, and wait to get his military records from St. Louis, and wait, and
wait.  I realize a lot happened a long time ago, but in some ways it seems
like it just happened.  I also know that some of the men on Jim's last
mission are dead, or unknown about in Laos too.  I do have their names from
the Library of Congress and was able to find out at least about the team
leader, John H.Robertson.  Jim was a member of a Spike team called
"Indiana".  I have questions about MACV-SOG that I can't answer to put in
the file.  Is there a good book on SOG that would explain personal
questions?  I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I teach in a Middle School,
and also try to cover subjects like the Vietnam War.  If you could help me
in any way as I try to trace Jim through becoming a Green Beret and then a
member of MACV-SOG, and then just disappearing, I would appreciate the help.
Is the fact he disappeared in Laos part of the difficulty in learning much?
Is it the fact that he was "sterile"{no identification} when he crossed over
into  Laos that makes this search for facts so bleak?  My name is Mary, and
my Email address, if you would care to reply,  PS I
was not with Jim when he entered the Army.  All that I know is from reading
and research, so I know very litlle about SF.  I have however, met through
the 5th Special Forces Association off the internet, some very nice men who
have gone out of their way to let me know they did not know Jim, etc.
Thanks for putting up with this long EMail.. it is hard to be otherwise.


To: (Naso)
I hope I can provide some help, I have the following information:

12 Jan 68, James Derwin Cohron, SSG E-6, USASF and two Vietnamese Team
Members (Names unknown), Spike Team "Indiana," FOB-1, Phu Bai, Ops 35, Spike
Team Members on Recon in Laos when ambushed. MIA Presumptive finding of
death. (The team moved to a predetermined location at which time SSG Cohron
and the two Vietnamese were unaccounted for. Cohron was the second man from
the rear of the team formation, when the team was ambushed, 1 mile inside
Laos, south of Khe Sanh. Initially, the team broke contact and set up a
defensive position on a small hill, after evading through a gully. The
terrain was heavily vegetated with "elephant grass" which obstructed the
teams view of Cohron as well as well as their ability to effect any contact
with him. Air Support was requested and the team being extracted. Two days
later a search team was inserted and these three individuals were not

You can visit the to gain some information on SOG.
There are several books out regarding MACVSOG, two of which I recommend by
John Plaster:  SOG A Photo History of the Secret Wars  and SOG, The Secret
Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam  Please see the site





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On January 12, 1968, a U.S. Army reconnaissance team carried out a combat mission in Laos. While moving toward their objective, they were ambushed by an enemy force of unknown size. The team broke contact and moved toward a predetermined rally point with the enemy in pursuit. They then set up a defensive perimeter and counted their members. One U.S. soldier and two South Vietnamese team members were found to be missing. The team was extracted from the area, and two days later a search and rescue team combed the area around grid coordinates XD 929 208, where the missing team members were last seen. A U.S. Army food ration associated with the missing U.S. soldier was located but no other sign of the team members was ever found.

Staff Sergeant James Derwin Cohron, who joined the U.S. Army from Iowa, served with the 5th Special Forces Group. He was the American member of the reconnaissance team who disappeared before the team reached the rally point, and his remains have not been recovered. While he was carried in the status of missing in action, the U.S. Army promoted Staff Sergeant Cohron to the rank of Sergeant First Class (SFC). Today, Sergeant First Class Cohron is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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