MAY, MICHAEL FREDERIC
Name: Michael Frederic May
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special Forces
Unit: MACV-SOG, B-56 Project Sigma on loan to B-50 Project Omega,
Recon Team #1
Date of Birth: 07 June 1947 (Saginaw MI)
Home City of Record: Vassar MI
Date of Loss: 02 March 1969
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 114157N 1061755E (XT415935)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: William A. Evans (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 01
January 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998 with information from
Cindi Atwood. 2020
SYNOPSIS: Special Forces personnel Sgt. William Evans (the team leader) and
SP5 Michael May were part of an eleven man team conducting a secret mission
inside Cambodia. They were operating as an element of MACV-SOG, B-50 Project
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.
Evans and May's team operated under Command and Control South, which was
located at Ban Me Thuot, but operated from FOB's (Forward Operations Bases)
along the Cambodian border. Working with the 11-man American team was an
unspecified number of ARVN troops.
After being inserted at a landing zone, the team moved toward its objective.
As the team approached the wood line, several members of the team heard the
sound of rifle safeties being clicked, followed by a blast of weapons fire
from the front and left flank. It was later judged that the team had been
hit by a battalion-size NVA force from its base camp. The team fell back 60
meters to a mound located in the area. A perimeter was formed, and the enemy
closed in on the position.
Gunships were called in to repel the enemy advance, and after they departed
the area, at about 1700 hours, the enemy attacked again. Later that day, a
projectile thought to be a B-40 rocket exploded directly over the team's
position resulting in wounds to 8 of 11 men. Evans at that time sustained a
lethal head wound and died shortly thereafter. May received multiple wounds
to the head and chest and died 30 minutes later. The surviving members of
the team moved about 60 meters from the area, leaving the remains of Evans,
May and three ARVN team members behind.
One account of the action states that medical evacuation teams conducted an
aerial search during which aerial photos revealed the Americans on the team
had all been killed. Another account reports that the nine American members
of the team survived.
Both Evans and May were classified Killed/Body Not Recovered.
Evans and May never returned. These highly trained soldiers knew that there
was the possibility they would be killed or captured. Their missions were
highly secret and dangerous, and in some cases, their existence had to be
denied. They also were told the possibility existed that the U.S. Government
would not come after them. Whether they truly believed that would be
abandoned is a matter for argument. This is America, after all, where even a
single human life is of paramount importance.