RIP 07/29/2014

Name: Jon R. Cavaiani
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Task Force 1, Advisory Element, USARV TAG SUP; Headquarters USARV
Date of Birth: 02 August 1943
Home City of Record: Merced CA
Date of Loss: 05 June 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 164111N 1064346E (XD844455)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: John R. Jones (missing)


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 2017.

SYNOPSIS: In 1971, MACV-SOG's Command and Control North, Central and South were
redesignated as Task Force Advisory Elements 1, 2 and 3, respectively. These
titular changes had little initial impact on actual activities. Their missions
were still quite sensitive and highly classified. Each task force was composed
of 244 Special Forces and 780 indigenous commandos, and their reconnaissance
teams remained actively engaged in cross-border intelligence collection and
interdiction operations. The USARV TAG (Training Advisory Group) supported the
USARV Special Missions Advisory Group and was composed of U.S. Army Special
Forces and MACV advisors. SMAG formed at Nha Trang from former personnel from
B-53, the MACV Rcondo School cadre, CCN and CCS to train the South Vietnamese
Special Missions Force teams drawn from LLDB and Ranger units.

Task Force 1 Advisory Element was forced from its Hickory Hill radio relay site
at Dong Tri in early June 1971. The Hickory Hill post had existed on strategic
Hill 953, in northwest Quang Tri Province at the edge of the DMZ since June
1968. On June 3, heavy North Vietnamese artillery began battering the bunkered
Hickory Hill defenses.

On June 4, five wounded Special Forces and ten indigenous commandos were
medically evacuated, leaving SSgt. Jon R. Cavaiani and Sgt. John R. Jones with
23 commandos defending the mountaintop. At about 0400 hours on June 5, Jones
and Caviani were in a bunker when a hand grenade was dropped through the air
vent, wounding Sgt. Jones in the leg. Jones left the bunker, and was seen shot
in the chest by an NVA soldier.

An NVA battalion stormed the summit and captured Hickory Hill on June 5 in
adverse weather which prevented air support. In the bunker, Caviani played dead
as NVA soldiers came in looking for survivors. As his bunker was set on fire,
Caviani ran, burned, to another bunker. He spotted a helicopter and attempted
to signal it, serving only to alert the enemy to his position. Cavaiani was
captured as the last positions fell.

Later searches failed to turn up any sign of John R. Jones, dead or alive. He
is among nearly 2500 Americans still missing in Southeast Asia. There can be
little question that the enemy knows his fate, yet the Vietnamese deny
knowledge of him. Evidence mounts that hundreds of these men are still alive,
captive, waiting for their country to bring them home. One of them could be
John R. Jones.

Sgt. Jon R. Cavaiani was released by the Provisional Government of Vietnam on
March 27, 1973. He was awarded the  Medal of Honor for his attempt
to defend Hickory Hill.

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).

Staff Sergeant- United States Army
Captured: June 5, 1971
Released: March 27, 1973

An individual must at least attempt to keep his mind occupied, to retain his
sanity, otherwise, the enemy will enter. Therefore, I decided what were the
things I believed in: God, America, and my family. Yes, they had always been
in my mind and then when I needed them most they stood by me as a shield
against the enemy.

After extensive and rigorous training in the skills of the Special Forces, I
went to Vietnam as a weapons man. Upon arriving there I was immediately made
Agricultural Advisor for Military Region 1 or I Corps, a job in which I had an
extensive knowledge, having been District Sales Manager for a chemical
company, which specialized in agricultural chemicals, prior to my military
career. Also, before working for the chemical company, I had farmed for four
and a half years.

I was Agricultural Advisor for four months until reassigned to run
reconnaissance for four months. I was also a heavy weapons platoon leader for
a month. My last assignment before being captured was as a commander of a
relay site north west of Quang Tri. On June 4, 1971 the site was attacked and
overrun by the enemy. The following day, I was captured. From that day forward
the enemy, in their own way, gave me the will to survive, to resist their
ideas and their belief that what they were doing was right. This in turn
strengthened my conviction that I was right in being in Vietnam.

As a prisoner I was to meet some of the most heroic men I have ever or will
ever hope to encounter, men who never let their country or families down, when
so many people in the United States were letting us, the POWs, MIAs and almost
all our country, down. Well, by God, regardless of what some people said about
the war, we did our jobs as men and kept the faith in our President and

I thank God and my country for letting me come back to see my daughters again.
And I say, with great pride, God Bless America.

November 1996
Jon Cavaiani retired from the Army as a Sergeant Major.

Medal of Honor  ---- CAVAIANI, JON R.

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Vietnam Training Advisory
Group, Republic of Vietnam

Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 4 and 5 June 1971

Entered service at: Fresno, California

Born: August 1943, Royston, England

Citation: S/Sgt. Cavaiani distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and
intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action
in The Republic of Vietnam on 4 and 5 June 1971 while serving as a platoon
leader to a security platoon providing security for an isolated radio relay
site located within enemy-held territory. On the morning of 4 June 1971 the
entire camp came under an intense barrage of enemy small arms, automatic
weapons, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from a superior size enemy
force. S/Sgt. Cavaiani acted with complete disregard for his personal safety
as he repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to move about
the camp's perimeter directing the platoon's fire and rallying the platoon
in a desperate fight for survival. S/Sgt. Cavaiani also returned heavy
suppressive fire upon the assaulting enemy force during this period with a
variety of weapons. When the entire platoon was to be evacuated, S/Sgt.
Cavaiani unhesitatingly volunteered to remain on the ground and direct the
helicopters into the landing Zone. S/Sgt. Cavaiani was able to direct the
first 3 helicopters in evacuating a major portion of the platoon. Due to an
intense increase in enemy fire, S/Sgt Cavaiani was forced to remain at the
camp overnight where he calmly directed the remaining platoon members in
strengthening their defenses. On the morning of 5 June, a heavy ground fog
restricted visibility. The superior size enemy launched a major ground
attack in an attempt to completely annihilate the remaining small force. The
enemy force advanced in 2 ranks launching a heavy volume of small arms,
automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fire while the second rank
continuously threw a steady barrage of hand grenades at the beleaguered
force. S/Sgt. Cavaiani returned a heavy barrage of small arms and hand
grenade fire on the assaulting enemy forces but was unable to slow them
down. He ordered the remaining platoon members to attempt to escape while he
provided them with cover fire. With one last courageous exertion, S/Sgt.
Cavaiani recovered a machine gun, stood up, completely exposing himself to
the heavy enemy fire directed at him, and began firing the machine gun in a
sweeping motion along the 2 ranks of advancing enemy soldiers. Through S/Sgt
Cavaiani's valiant efforts, with complete disregard for his safety, the
majority of the remaining platoon members were able to escape. While
inflicting severe losses on the advancing enemy force, S/Sgt Cavaiani was
wounded numerous times. S/Sgt Cavaiani's conspicuous Gallantry,
extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of
duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service
and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.


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President Gerald Ford presented Cavaiani with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony on December 12, 1974.
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The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announces that Sergeant Major Jon R. Cavaiani,
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This video shows Jonís journey from California.