Name: Raymond Louis Echevarria
Rank/Branch: E8/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Command & Control - MACV-SOG
Date of Birth: 16 September 1933 (Brooklyn NY)
Home City: New York NY
Loss Date: 03 October 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165100N 1063200E (XD632624)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 0480

Other Personnel In Incident: James E. Jones; Eddie L. Williams (missing);
indigeneous personnel; Bui Kim Tien (sole survivor)

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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: SFC James R. Jones were all members of a 7 man recon team on a
classified mission into Laos. The three were assigned to Headquarters &
Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group, but were under orders to
Command & Control, MACV-SOG.

MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation
Group) was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force
engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th
Special Forces channelled 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 October 3, 1966, Echevarria and his team were inserted into Laos near the
border of the MR-1 region of South Vietnam (just west of the Demilitarized
Zone), and immediately came under enemy fire, apparently surrounded by enemy
troops. The team requested immediate extraction, but heavy gunfire prevented
the helicopter from landing on the LZ. Williams and Bui Kim Tien were trying
to evade capture. Tien, who was later rescued, reported that SFC Williams
told him both Jones and Echevarria were seriously wounded, perhaps near

On October 4, Williams and Bui spotted some caves, and Bui went forward to
investigate them, at which point Tien was spotted by hostile forces and
forced to leave the area. Tien later heard gunfire in the area, and believed
that it was between SFC Williams and the enemy troops. Tien continued to
evade for the rest of the day until he was picked up by friendly aircraft at
1500 hours.

Ray Echevarria's photo was later identified as that of a prisoner of war by
a defector. According to CIA analysts, this identification was an error,
based on the report of Bui Kim Tien that Echevarria and Jones were near
death. Tien was polygraphed, and his debrief is believed to be accurate. But
still, doubts remain. The fact is, no one saw Echevarria, Williams and Jones
die. With enemy so close, there is ample reason to believe they might have
been captured.

Since American involvement in Indochina ended, over 8000 reports of
Americans still held captive have been received by the U.S. government. Of
the nearly 600 American servicemen lost in Laos, not a single man has ever
been released. The U.S. did not negotiate for the prisoners held in Laos.
They were abandoned by the country they proudly served.




Return to Service Member Profiles

On October 3, 1966, a seven-man reconnaissance team comprising three U.S. Army soldiers and four South Vietnamese, ethnic Nung, soldiers was inserted by helicopter into a landing zone in the Savannakhet Province of Laos approximately 800 meters south of Ban Taha, and two kilometers west of the Laos-Vietnam border. Very shortly after landing, they found themselves surrounded by enemy forces. They requested immediate helicopter extraction, but quickly became involved in a firefight, and the helicopter was driven off by small arms fire. The three U.S. soldiers were all wounded, two severely. One U.S. soldier, who was hit in the leg, was able to leave the immediate area with one of the South Vietnamese soldiers, but the two soon encountered another group of enemy troops. The South Vietnamese soldier, who was extracted from the area the next day and was the sole surviving member of the patrol, reported he last saw his fellow team member exchanging fire with pursuing enemy troops. An immediate search for the team members could not be conducted because enemy forces controlled the area, and later searches were unsuccessful.

Master Sergeant Raymond Echevarria, who joined the U.S. Army from New York, served with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group. He was severely wounded by enemy fire when his patrol was attacked on October 3, 1966, and the presence of enemy troops prevented his extraction from the area. Later searches for his remains were unsuccessful. While carried in the status of missing in action, the U.S. Army promoted MSG Echevarria to the rank of Sergeant Major (SGM). Today, Sergeant Major Echevarria 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.

Service member profile discrepancy? Please help us ensure the accuracy of each profile by submitting documentation about a service member profile.