LEDBETTER, THOMAS ISAAC

Name: Thomas Isaac Ledbetter
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment A-133, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 26 May 1936 (Bainbridge GA)
Home City of Record: Tampa FL
Loss Date: 19 June 1964
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 112447N 1061041E (XT325635)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 0032

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.

Other Personnel In Incident: Sgt. James L. Talley (Missing); Sgt. Harry A.
Walling (killed); 103-man Montagnard company

REMARKS: MIA IN GRND FIGHT ON PATROL - J

SYNOPSIS: On June 17, 1964, Capt. Thomas L. Ledbetter, Sgt. James L. Talley
and Sgt. Harry Walling left the Special Forces camp at Polei Krong on a
two-day patrol with a 103-man Montagnard company. The patrol proceeded
through Tay Ninh Province to about 5 miles southeast of the provincial
capitol.

Two days later, at the camp at Soui Da, a radio message was received from
Talley reporting that the team had walked into a Viet Cong battallion of
300-400 and that Captain Ledbetter had been wounded. He requested air
support and evacuation. He was unable to give an exact location.

Immediate help was sent, but was unable to locate the area of the battle.
Later that day, a company and a half were ready to leave on a search when 26
survivors, mostly wounded, began to come in, giving a grim description of
what had occurred. Captain Ledbetter, although shot in the leg, stabbed and
hit in the head, was last seen crawling away after the company was entirely
overrun. Some of the survivors reported that they had hidden in the brush
pretending to be dead and observed the Viet Cong burying bodies and lying in
wait for the search parties they knew would come. Some said that they had
seen Talley and Ledbetter being carried away by the Viet Cong.

The search for clues of the fate of Thomas Ledbetter, James Talley and Harry
Walling went on for over a week. Each day, the searchers encountered enemy
fire and engaged in battle, both on the ground and in the air. The search
was complicated by the fact that the Montagnards were unfamiliar with the
area and frequently became confused about the locations of the battles.
Eighty-six new graves were found, and several of them were opened. The grave
of Harry Walling was found and his body evacuated. Ledbetter and Talley were
not found.

The team felt at the time that Ledbetter and Talley had been captured.
Talley had medical experience and would have made a valuable prisoner to the
Viet Cong who were unable to adequately treat their wounded.

U.S. Government has received thousands of sighting reports of living
Americans in captivity in Southeast Asia. Because many of these reports
cannot be disproven, families of men like Tommy Ledbetter and Jim Talley
wonder if their loved one could still be waiting to be rescued by the
country they loved and served.

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01/2020

https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000BTPcEAO

CPT THOMAS ISAAC LEDBETTER

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On June 19, 1964, members of the 5th Special Forces Group left the Special Forces camp at Polei Krong with a 103-man Montagnard company on a combat patrol through an area in Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam. As the unit moved through its area of operations on the northeast edge of Nui Ba Den Mountain, also known as Black Virgin Mountain, it came under intermittent attack from enemy forces. The patrol eventually abandoned the area and it was during this withdrawal that three of the Special Forces troops accompanying the patrol became missing. A full-scale search and rescue mission continued for more than a week but was unsuccessful in locating the missing patrol members.  

Captain Thomas Isaac Ledbetter entered the U.S. Army from Florida and was a member of Detachment A-133, 5th Special Forces Group. He was an advisor on this patrol when it was ambushed, and he was not seen or heard from again following the incident. Today, Captain Ledbetter 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.

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