KUYKENDALL, WILLIE CLYDE Name: Willie Clyde Kuykendall Rank/Branch: E3/US Army Unit: Troop F, 7th Cavalry, 196th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) Date of Birth: 04 August 1949 Home City of Record: Batesville MS Date of Loss: 18 August 1971 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 155028N 1080821E (AT936533) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Tank Other Personnel in Incident: Melvin L. Weaks (missing) Refno: 1769 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. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: At 1400 hours on August 18, 1971, PFC Willie Kuykendall and PFC Melvin Weaks, both gunners, were members of 2nd Platoon, F Troop, 17th Cavalry, on a recovery operation of a track vehicle which had stalled while crossing the Thu Bon River in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam. During the operation, PFC Kuykendall, assisted by SSgt. Bays, attempted to swim a cable across the river to reach the vehicle. Bays was able to reach the vehicle, but due to the swift river current, PFC Kuykendall was carried past it. After having trouble staying up, he disappeared below the surface of the water, and was not seen again. When it became clear that PFC Kuykendall was in trouble, PFC Weaks entered the water and attempted to swim towards him, but he also disappeared beneath the surface in the same area, and was also not seen again. An extensive air and ground search was conducted without success. Kuykendall and Weaks are among the unfortunate accidental deaths that occur wherever people are. The fact that they died an accidental death in the midst of war is tragically ironic. They are listed among the missing with honor, because their bodies were never found to be returned to the country they served. Others who are missing do not have such clear cut cases. Some were known captives; some were photographed as they were led away by their guards. Some were in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared. Over 1000 eye-witness reports of living American prisoners were received by 1989. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?