Name: Vernon Zigman Johns
Rank/Branch: E3/US Army
Unit: Company B, 4th Mechanized Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 25th Infantry
Date of Birth: 23 December 1942
Home City of Record: Baltimore MD
Date of Loss: 03 February 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 110259N 1062959E (XT638218)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: APC 34
Refno: 1028

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 1998.

Other Personnel In Incident: Marion E. Wilson (missing)


SYNOPSIS: On February 3, 1968, PFC Johns was an armored personnel track
commander assigned to B Company, 4th Mechanized Battalion, 23rd Infantry,
when his unit engaged an enemy force of unknown size in Binh Duong Province,
South Vietnam. Johns was last seen manning the 50 calibre machine gun from
the hatch of Track #34, one of four APCs under small arms and rocket
propelled grenade fire. Several crewmen of the others APCs saw Johns during
the engagement. The driver of Johns' APC was seen to jump from the vehicle,

APC #33, assigned to C Company, being driven by PFC Marion E. Wilson, was
hit by a rocket propelled grenade. PFC Wilson was last seen in the driver's
hatch when the vehicle caught fire. He could not be removed from the
wreckage because the vehicle was burning intensely and ammunition was
exploding. It is believed that he was cremated in the track. He was
classified as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

Soon afterwards, a crewman from another APC who had seen Johns' APC when the
driver left, remembered that he had looked toward the vehicle, but was no
longer able to see Johns. Johns' loader was also wounded and after he
radioed for help, he was evacuated by 4 other members of the unit who
conducted a search of the surrounding area, but were unable to find any
trace of Johns.

After contact with the enemy was broken, 3 airstrikes were called into the
area where APC #34 was seen. The vehicle was, in fact, recovered later.
Johns did not appear at muster of personnel before the company departed the
area, but he was reported to have been evacuated. When medics were later
questioned, they denied knowledge of his evacuation. Johns was officially
listed as captured.

In September 1974, JCRC conducted a casualty resolution operation in the
Trang Bang District of Hau Nghai Province and discovered six sets of
remains. Sources had stated that one of these persons buried at the site was
an American, and this was believed to possibly correlate to Johns and
Wilson, but the remains were later determined to all be mongoloid, and Johns
was a negro and Wilson caucasian.

Wilson's case seems clear, but Johns is not. He is listed as captured, and
did not return with other released POWs in 1973. As reports mount that
Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia, one must wonder if one of them
is Vernon Johns. If so, what must he be thinking of us?