SCURLOCK, LEE DELTON JR.
Name: Lee Delton Scurlock, Jr.
Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Command & Control Detachment, MACV-SOG
Date of Birth: 10 November 1943 (Cleveland OH)
Home City of Record: Restful Lake OH
Date of Loss: 21 December 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 143327N 1071713E (YB464105)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and
Observation Group) was a joint-service 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 into Laos and Cambodia which were called, depending on the time
frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
SSGT Lee D. Scurlock, Jr. was the radio operator for a MACV-SOG
reconnaissance team of C & C Detachment which was inserted into Laos on
December 21, 1967. The mission went smoothly until the second day when the
team split up to investigate a hut. Enemy contact was made by both groups
and an immediate extraction was made.
One element of the team was extracted with no problems. However, the
remainder of the team was forced to use rope ladders. The helicopter
attempting the extraction of the second element was from the 199th Aviation
Company and went by call sign "Gator 376." SSGT Scurlock made one attempt to
climb the ladder but lost his grip. He jettisoned the radio and his rucksack
and again attempted to climb the ladder.
During the second attempt, the helicopter was taking fire and the aircraft
commander had cleared the area with the team member still on the ladder. The
men inside the helicopter were trying their best to help Scurlock into the
helicopter, but when he almost reached the helicopter skid, two shots were
heard. His facial expression changed and he fell from the ladder. The
helicopter was at this time flying at an altitude of 50-75 feet above the
The helicopter returned to its operational base where the commander ordered
a recovery effort. The team returned to the landing zone (which was located
near the border of Cambodia in Attopeu Province, Laos), but could not find
SSGT Scurlock. The team did see a body some distance away and tried to get
into that area, but were driven off by hostile fire. The following day, the
area was aerially searched, but no body could be found.
For every insertion like Scurlock's that was detected and stopped, dozens of
other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of
targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions
conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia
was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding,
sabotage and intelligence gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military
history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most
combat-effective, deep-penetration forces ever raised.
The missions Lee Scurlock and others were assigned were exceedingly
dangerous and of strategic importance. The men who were put into such
situations knew the chance of their recovery if captured was slim to none.
They quite naturally assumed that their freedom would come by the end of the
war. For 591 Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another
2500, however, freedom has never come.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities
that hundreds remain alive in captivity. Lee Scurlock could be among them.
If so, what must he think of us?