LAPORTE, MICHAEL LOUIS
Name: Michael Louis Laporte Rank/Branch: E5/US Navy Unit: 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Force Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division Date of Birth: 21 August 1944 (Seattle WA) Home City of Record: Los Angeles CA Date of Loss: 05 September 1967 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 155500N 1075800E (ZC184665) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: HCDROP
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 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 1999.
REMARKS: LOST IN HELICOPTER DROP
SYNOPSIS: Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Petty Officer Michael L. Laporte was assigned to 1st Force Recon Company, 1st Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Da Nang, South Vietnam. (NOTE: Some lists have Laporte incorrectly listed as an E2.) On September 3, 1967, Laport was assigned as the team corpsman of a nine-man reconnaissance patrol that was inserted by parachute into Happy Valley, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.
Laporte was the number five man in the jump sequence. All nine parachutes opened, but a westerly wind of about 30 knots caused the team to drift. Laporte was seen by team members to be drifting out and beyond the others. This was the last time he was seen. He did not join the patrol as planned.
The patrol conducted an immediate search with negative results. this was Laporte's 13th jump and he was very experienced in such operations, having been in-country for about 2 years, with a request for another extension. The jump master believed that he was not injured in the jump and that he could evade capture. (NOTE: Some sources say that Michael Laporte was a Navy SEAL, although this information is not given in U.S. Navy accounts of his loss incident.) Later in the day, the patrol was hit by an enemy force of 5-6 Viet Cong. All other patrol members were evacuated. (NOTE: Defense Department lists indicate that Laporte was lost on September 5th. No reason for the descrepancy can be determined, unless the team was inserted on the 3rd and extracted on the 5th at which time Laporte was declared missing.) Laporte was listed Missing in Action.
Nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans still missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government since the war ended. Many officials, having reviewed this largely classified information, believe that hundreds of Americans are still alive, withing and hoping that their country will someday bring them home.
Through the years since Laports disappeared, reports have filtered in that he was captured by the Viet Cong. In 1979, U.S. Marine PFC Robert Garwood was released from Vietnam, and related that he had known of Laporte. According to Garwood, the Viet Cong had brought Laporte to the camp in Happy Valley where Garwood had been held for some time as prisoner. The camp guards called Laporte "Bill." The last he heard, "Bill" was working as a laborer on a communal farm in North Vietnam in the Quang Thien area -- in 1975 -- two years after the U.S. Government declared that there was no reason to believe any POWs were still alive.
Garwood was not debriefed by the U.S. Government for some 8 years after he was released, so his knowledge of "Bill" was quite dated by the time it was reluctantly received. Perhaps Laporte is still alive, wondering if anyone remembers him -- or cares.
Michael L. Laporte was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer during the period he was maintained missing.
[r0830.97] PROJECT X SUMMARY SELECTION RATIONALE
NAME: LAPORTE, Michael L. HM2 USN
OFFICIAL STATUS: MISSING
CASE SUMMARY: SEE ATTACHED
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION: HM2 Laporte was last seen in a good parachute drifting away from other members of his reconnaissance team during a parachute drop. There is no evidence to indicate HM2 Laporte's death.
REFNO: 0830 20 Apr 76
(U) CASE SUMMARY
1. On 5 September 1967, Michael L. LaPorte was the medic assigned to a nine man reconnaissance patrol that was to parachute into "Happy Valley," (vicinity of grid coordinates (GC) ZC 144 644), South Vietnam. At drop time the forecast was negligible wind and favorable conditions. However, after exiting the aircraft, the jumpers encountered a westerly wind of 30 knots, causing the patrol to miss the drop zone by 3 1/2 kilometers and to land in heavy jungle canopy and rough terrain, (in the vicinity of (GC) ZC 184 6'65). HM2 LaPorte was observed by other members of the team, while still in the air to be drifting away from the others at much faster rate in a northwesterly direction. This was the last time HM2 LaPorte was seen. (Ref 1 & 2)
2. The drop area was searched unsuccessfully by reconnaissance personnel, and loudspeaker broadcasts were made by a U.S. Army Psyops Warfare Aircraft. (Ref 1)
3. The search was ended at 1645 hours on 6 September 1967, and the remaining members of the patrol were extracted. No trace of LaPorte was found. Two members of HM2 LaPorte's unit, HM2 [blank] and SSG [blank] former members of LaPorte's patrol, raised the possibility that LaPorte went AWOL from the patrol for the purpose of going to Saigon to be with an "alleged" Vietnamese wife. [Blank] further alleged that LaPorte had packed extra food and medical supplies prior to the patrol, and had withdrawn all monies due him from finance, and had updated his personnel record. Other members of LaPorte's Patrol had no knowledge of these allegations, and a former commanding officer of LaPorte doubted the accuracy of [blank] statements. The patrol members believe that LaPorte was probably killed or critically injured after the jump and was unable to link-up with his comrades. (Three members of the patrol had to be medevaced after landing with the high winds and extremely rough terrain). (Ref 1 & 2)
4. During the existence o' JCRC, the hostile threat in the area precluded any visits to or ground inspectors of the sites involved in this case. This individual's name and identifying data were turned over to Four-Party Joint Military Team with a request for any information available. No response was forthcoming. LaPorte is currently carried in the status of Missing.
1. RPT (U), HQ lst RECON Bn lst Marine Div, FMF, w/statements, 19 Sep 67.
2. RPT (U), HQ 2nd CI Team, File #12-68-5X, w/statements, 1 Aug 68.
* National Alliance of Families Home Page
----------------- Los Angeles Times April 14, 1991
The Legend of Doc Laporte
One Night, He Parachuted Behind North Vietnamese Lines. The Navy Declared Him Dead, a Hero. The Men Who Served With Him Say He Went Over to the Other Side - and May Still Be Alive.
By Karen Tumutry
The last thing that anyone knows for sure about Doc Laporte is this: Several hours before dawn on Sept. 5. 1967, he was the fifth of nine men who parachuted from a transport plane into a hellish place named Happy Valley.....
Karen Tumulty is a reporter in The Times' Washington bureau. Times researchers Jill Gottesman in Los Angeles and Doug Conner in Seattle contributed to this story.