Name: Samuel Joseph Padgett
Rank/Branch: E7/US Army Special Forces
Unit: C & C Detachment, MACV-SOG
Date of Birth: 10 April 1937
Home City of Record: Tulsa OK
Date of Loss: 10 April 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 152636N 1074835E (ZC015092)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: CH34
Refno: 1125
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 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.


SYNOPSIS: MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and
Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional
warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout
Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled 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.

SFC Samuel J. Padgett was assigned to Command and Control Detachment,
MACV-SOG in Vietnam. On his thirty-first birthday, Padgett, SFC Aubrey A.
Bryant, SFC Crecencio Cardosa, and SFC Charles E. Wilcox Jr. were passengers
aboard a CH34 helicopter with an indigenous crew flying from Da Nang to Kham
Duc, South Vietnam.

During the flight, the helicopter lost power, crashed and burned. A rescue
team was dispatched to the crash site immediately, and the rescue team saw
bodies in the burning aircraft, but the bodies could not be extracted at
that time because of the extreme heat of the fire. When the wreckage had
cooled so that the remains could be removed, they were taken to Da Nang
mortuary for positive identification.

At Da Nang, three American remains were identified by matching dental
records. SFC Padgett's remains had not been recovered. A thorough search of
the area around the crash site was conducted on the day of the crash and
again on April 12. The second search, unsuccessful, was conducted by two

Although the chances that Padgett escaped the aircraft seem slim, no remains
were returned that can be attributed to him. Therefore, a possible escape
must be considered. However, since the helicopter did not fall to enemy
fire, but to malfunction of some sort, Padgett would probably have been
detected in the area by searchers, even if he had been wounded or

Witnesses to the crash did not believe anyone survived the intense fire
following the crash of the helicopter. Therefore, Samuel J. Padgett was
listed as killed, body not recovered. He is among nearly 2500 Americans who
remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The cases of some, like
Padgett's, seem clear - that they perished and cannot be recovered.
Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are
still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to secure their

In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of
our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign
their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?




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On April 10, 1968, a CH-34 Choctaw helicopter with six men aboard was flying into a training area near Kham Duc airfield, South Vietnam, when it lost power, crashed, and caught fire while approaching the landing area. Rescue personnel rushed to the crash site but found no survivors, and intense heat from the burning wreckage prevented rescuers from retrieving any remains immediately following the crash. Once they could approach the wreckage, they were able to recover the remains of all but one of the men who were aboard the Choctaw.

Sergeant First Class Samuel Joseph Padgett, who entered the U.S. Army from Oklahoma, served with the Command and Control Detachment of the 5th Special Forces Group, which was responsible for the Special Forces outpost at the Kham Duc airfield. He was aboard this Choctaw when it crashed and his remains were not recovered after the incident. A member of the recovery team suggested that SFC Padgett's remains might have been positioned inside the crashed helicopter in such a way that wreckage prevented the team from finding him. Today, Sergeant First Class Padgett 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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