McCLELLAN, PAUL TRUMAN JR.
Name: Paul Truman McClellan, Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 07 July 1931 Home City of Record: West Stayton OR Date of Loss: 14 November 1965 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 133422N 1074311E (YA943020) Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A1E Refno: 0190
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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 2000.
SYNOPSIS: Until fall of 1965, U.S. fighting in Vietnam had largely been characterized by hit-and-run operations by the Viet Cong. Around Thanksgiving 1965, for the first time, regular North Vietnamese regiments engaged in conventional battle with U.S. forces. The Vietnamese were not successful in this strategy.
In November, 1965, the 3rd Brigade, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was ordered to employ units in a 15-square-kilometer area in western Pleiku Province known as Area Lime. Search and destroy missions were begun in the Ia Drang River valley along the border of Cambodia and South Vietnam south and southeast of Plei Me.
On the morning of 14 November, 4 companies of the 1st Battalion were lifted to LZ X-RAY. The landing was assisted by air cover by gunships of the 2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery (Aerial Rocket) (Airmobile) and 229th Aviation Battalion. Meanwhile, two North Vietnamese Regiments had left nearby Chu Pong mountain for staging at attack on Plei Me, some 15 miles east. Their commander, General Chu Huy Man, changed course and returned to Chu Pong where the Vietnamese engaged the American forces.
Several hours of fighting ensued, with one U.S. company isolated. When the North Vietnamese troop strength was realized, Air Force aircraft based at Pleiku were called in for air support. About 3 p.m., on one of several low-level firing passes over LZ X-RAY, the A1E flown by Capt. Paul T. McClellan was shot down. His Skyraider, trailing smoke and flames, crashed two kilometers northeast of the landing zone, killing McClellan. When enemy soldiers tried to reach the wreckage, U.S. gunships destroyed it with rocket fire.
By the end of the day, elements of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry were brought in, and the fighting slowed. The next day, elements of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry arrived, the isolated platoon was reached and the area secured. The survivors of Company C had been blessed by skill, luck, and the dedication of their American comrades, as well as poor strategy on the part of the enemy.
Paul McClellan died in defense of a little plot of ground known as LZ X-Ray, and to add his efforts to the recovery of a few men in Company C. If he were alive today, and knew that hundreds of his comrades are suspected to be alive in captivity today, one can imagine he would gladly fly one more mission for them.