PEDERSON, JOE PALMER Name: Joe Palmer Pederson Rank/Branch: E7/US Army Unit: 595th Signal Company, 36th Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Group, 1st Signal Brigade Date of Birth: 12 July 1935 (Manatt WA) Home City of Record: Seaside CA Date of Loss: 23 June 1970 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 110933N 1063858E (XT801340) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: 2-ton Truck Refno: 1639 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. Other Personnel In Incident: James Rozo; Robert P. Phillips (missing) REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: At about 1100 hours on June 23, 1970, SFC Joe P. Pederson, supply sergeant; SP4 James M. Rozo, armorer; and Pvt. Robert P. Phillips, unit supply specialists, all from the 595th Signal Company, left their base at the Lai Khe Signal site for the Phuoc Vinh Signal site in a GMC 2 1/2 ton vehicle on a supply mission. These men were updating clothing records, retrieving excess equipment, adjusting receipts and inventorying weapons of two outlying subunits of the 595th Signal Company. Before leaving the Lai Khe site, Sgt. Pederson was told by three separate individuals to go down to the "new Phuoc Vinh road", because the "cutoff to Ben Cat" was closed to traffic. The cutoff had been reported to be mined, and had a high probability of ambush. At 1530 hours on the same day, the truck used by SFC Pederson and the two enlisted men was discovered by ARVN and U.S. Mobile Assistance Team 33 elements in a ditch along provincial highway 7B in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam. The truck's engine was still running. Initial reports indicated that the vehicle had no major damage other than a blown tire, and both front windshields shattered. Assorted signal equipment and supply records were found, but there was no sign of any of the personnel in the area. A search party found one dead Viet Cong and the three Americans' rifles jammed, and they surmised that the men had been ambushed and surrendered to the enemy. In September 1970, a Viet Cong was captured who said he was part of the ambush and he claimed that one of the men (Pederson) had been killed and buried near the location of the incident, but that the other two had been captured. The following day, the company commander of the 595th inspected the vehicle and found 12 small calibre bullet holes, the left front tire shattered, a small hole in the canvas top, and small metal objects in the cab. However, there were no indications of blood. Initially, the three men were listed Missing In Action while the government took 15 months to determine the validity of the Viet Cong's story. Then, in November 1971, a captured Viet Cong told interrogators he had seen two POWs being evacuated from South Vietnam into Cambodia. His description of the men fit Phillips and Rozo, whom he described as tired but healthy. Their status was quickly changed to POW. Pederson was maintained as Missing. In 1973, 591 American prisoners were returned home. Rozo, Phillips and Pederson were not among them. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of the three. Follow up reports on these three men remain classified in 1989, although they have been officially declared "presumed dead". In October, 1985, Rozo's parents were informed that their son escaped prison in 1973 and was not recaptured. His whereabouts are unknown. Rozo's parents are understandably disturbed that it took the U.S. Government 12 years to tell them this, and wonder what additional information remains hidden from them under the blanket of "classified". They wonder if their son is one of the many said to be still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.