Name: David Esequiel Padilla
Rank/Branch: E3/USMC
Unit: E Company, 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division
Date of Birth: 01 May 1947 (Santa Rosa NM)
Home City of Record: Borger TX
Date of Loss: 18 May 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 163813N 1064116E (XD800400)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 1180
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: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal David E. Padilla arrived in
Vietnam on May 16, 1967. He had only a short time to serve when he was sent
on a several-day reconnaissance patrol in the Khe Sanh area of Quang Tri
Province, South Vietnam. Padilla was a member of E Company, 3rd Recon

The events of the patrol are cloudy. Several teammembers were killed or
wounded in unspecified action, probably against the NVA 27th Independent
Battalion, which had been observed operating in the Camp Carroll area. One
fellow Marine, wishing more information about Padilla's fate, filed a
Freedom of Information request through the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps responded that they have no official documents describing
the events of the action, and forwarded a DD Form 1300, Report of Casualty,
containing releasable information on LCPL Padilla. According to the DD Form
1300, Padilla "died 18 May 1968 Quang Tri Province Republic of Vietnam
result multiple wounds to the entire body from hostile mortar fire while on
a reconnaissance patrol."

The Marine was not satisfied, and requested information from the History and
Museums Division of the Department of the Navy. The action chronology of the
3rd Reconnaissance Battalion shows the following statistics (but provides no
details of the actions):

During the month of May, 1968, Company E conducted 36 patrols averaging 3.62
days with an average of 7.53 men per patrol. The patrols made seven [enemy]
sightings for a total of 31 enemy, which resulted in six contacts and five
fire missions of 133 artillery rounds...There was a total of five USMC KIA
[killed in action] and one USN WIA [wounded in action]."

Company E, while operating in the vicinity of XD 8849 (roughly, the Khe Sanh
area), conducted 68 1/2 hours of reconnaissance resulting in one sighting of
five enemy and one contact with approximately 25 enemy. The contact resulted
in three USMC KIA, two USMC WIA and one USN WIA.

Company E was joined at the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Command at Khe Sanh
by Companies A, B, C, D and H & S Company. The combined total number KIA
during the month of May, 1968 from these other companies was one. During the
month of May, Company E had suffered five KIA, over 80% of the combat deaths
of the entire battalion, and the Marines had no records of the actions.

The Marines listed David E. Padilla as killed in action, body not recovered.
He is listed with honor among the missing because no remains were returned
to his country for burial. In death, as in war, David E. Padilla is a
statistic. The Marines did not bother to keep on file the events which
chronicled his last hours on earth.

Families and friends of the missing are continually frustrated in attempts
to learn details of the loss of American servicemen. When records do exist,
they are all-too-frequently classified. Some families have learned they will
have to wait half a century before the records of their loved one are
declassified. Until then, they must wonder and wait.

Tragically, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing or
unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government
since 1975. Much of this information is classified, but many officials who
have reviewed it believe hundreds of Americans are still alive, held
captive, today.

If, as U.S. policy seems to indicate, all the men missing in Southeast Asia
are dead, what harm could come by releasing information to their friends and
family? If, on the other hand, Americans are still alive, why hasn't our
government stepped out from behind this "classified curtain" to bring them


Subject: David Padilla USMC
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:25:48 -0600
From: Joseph

You can update Marine Padilla's bio with information from "Never Without
Heroes" by Lawrence C. Vetter.  Pages 229-231.   Padilla was a member of
an 8 man recon patrol (code name Sky Merchant) that came under heavy
counterrecon SAF, rocket, and mortar fire. The team was bracketed by
enemy mortar fire while attempts were made to extract the patrol by
helicopter.  Padilla was hit by direct mortar fire and his rescuers were
unable to locate any remains of the body and had to return to the rescue
helicopter without him.  Every member except one was either KIA or WIA
and Padilla is the only one that did not make it on the helicopter. I
wore Padilla's MIA bracelet for many years and then buried it when I
learned he was listed as dead/body not recovered, which is information I
received using the FOIA.   I happened to be reading this particular book
some thirty years later when I came upon a description of this patrol. 
The action occurred between The Rockpile and Khe Sahn close the base of
Tiger Mountain.  Every member of the patrol were accounted for in this
book's narrative of the action that took place.


See - unaccounted for


Status Codes: AR - AWOL/Deserter/Collaborator Returned BB - Killed in Action,
Body Not Recovered BR - Body Recovered EE - Escapee KK - Died in Captivity,
Remains Not Returned KR - Died in Captivity, Remains Returned MM - Missing (Civilians Only)
NR - Remains Returned/Remains Recovered PP - Prisoner (Civilians Only) RR - POW Returnee
XX - Presumptive Finding of Death Report

Prepared: 7/13/2017 Page Number: 22




Return to Service Member Profiles


Lance Corporal David Esequiel Padilla entered the U.S. Marine Corps from Texas and was a member of Company E, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. On May 18, 1968, he was a member of an eight-man reconnaissance patrol operating in the vicinity of Khe Sanh combat base, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. The unit came under heavy small arms and mortar fire by the enemy, and a large explosion occurred where LCpl Padilla was sitting. He was not seen following the explosion. An immediate search of the area revealed parts of his utility jacket and utility belt; however, his body was not recovered. Today, Lance Corporal Padilla 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.

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