Name: Leslie Berkley Sayre
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: 221st Aviation Company, 16th Aviation Group
Date of Birth: 28 November 1944 (Corpus Christi TX)
Home City of Record: Fairborn OH
Date of Loss: 20 March 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 102602N 1044221E (VS642510)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1D
Refno: 1097

Other Personnel in Incident: William B. Taylor (escaped POW)

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: The O1 "Bird Dog" was used extensively in the early years of the
war in Vietnam by forward air controllers and provided low, close visual
reconnaissance and target marking which enabled armed aircraft or ground
troops to close in on a target. The Bird Dog was feared by the enemy,
because he knew that opening fire would expose his location and invite
attack by fighter planes controlled by the slowly circling Bird Dog. The
Vietnamese became bold, however, when they felt their position was
compromised and attacked the little Bird Dog with a vengeance in order to
lessen the accuracy of the impending air strike.

1LT Leslie B. Sayre was an O1D pilot assigned a reconnaissance mission in
Kien Giang Province, South Vietnam on March 20, 1968. His observer that day
was SGT William B. Taylor. When the aircraft was about 20 miles east of the
city of Ha Tien, it was shot down by enemy fire.

A woodcutter working in the area saw the crash and later reported to U.S.
intelligence sources that one man was killed and the Viet Cong carried the
wounded man off in the direction of Cuc Tam Cot Ninh. A U.S. Special Forces
element conducted a search of the crash area, but the results of the search
are not on file.

A rallier claiming to be an eyewitness to the crash said the crash was in
Vinh Gia village, Chau Doc Province (this province borders Kien Giang to the
north and east, and the closest point, province to province is about 15
miles from the "official" location of loss as recorded by the Defense
Department.) Indigenous investigators visited the area several times and
brought back two aircraft data plates. The plates proved to be from a
helicopter, and were of no interest to U.S. officials.

William B. Taylor escaped from a Viet Cong prison camp on May 6, 1968, and
was picked up by U.S. Army helicopter. He is only of a only handful who were
fortunate enough to escape captivity during the Vietnam war.

Sayre's file contains other information which is not available to the public
because it is classified. Its nature is completely unknown. It seems
inappropriate that information on a man the U.S. believes to be dead is
still classified after over 20 years. Surely his family would like to know
every detail, every nuance that leads to the conclusion that their loved one
is dead.

Like hundreds of others, however, Sayre remains missing. Tragically, over
ten thousand reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have
been received by the U.S. Many authorities who have examined this
largely-classified information believe that there are hundreds of Americans
still alive today in Southeast Asia.

We are asked to take the Government's word that Sayre is dead, and accept
their word, also, that over ten thousand reports do not contain any
actionable information. Sayre, dead or alive, is still a prisoner in enemy
hands. And he has been abandoned by his country.




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On March 20, 1968, an O-1D Bird Dog (tail number 2697) carrying two crew members was conducting a visual reconnaissance mission over a wooded area in South Vietnam. During the mission, the pilot put the plane into a gentle dive during which the propeller hit a tree top, causing the aircraft to crash and catch fire. One crew member was able to pull himself from the burning aircraft to safety and while doing so, he observed the pilot slumped over in his seat and with no signs of life. The surviving crew member was then taken captive. A Viet Cong rallier later reported that the pilot's body was removed from the wreckage and buried by locals, but attempts to locate and recover the remains were unsuccessful. 

First Lieutenant Leslie Berkley Sayre entered the U.S. Army from Ohio and was a member of 221st Aviation Company, 16th Aviation Group. He was the pilot of the aircraft when it crashed, and his remains were not recovered. Today, First Lieutenant Sayre 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 Deferred.

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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