Name: William Dempsey Thornton, Jr.
Rank/Branch: E3/US Army
Unit: Company D, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry, 199th Infantry Brigade
        In the Coffelt Casualty Database Base He is listed as being in A
        William Dempsey Thornton Jr. was in A Company 2nd Battalion, 3rd
        Infantry, 199th Infantry Brigade there was no D Company in 1967. D
        Company was added in January 1968 just before TET.
        Redcatcher Historian
        Larry McDougal
Date of Birth: 19 August 1946
Home City of Record: Terrytown NY
Date of Loss: 28 January 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 103617N 1064324E (XS885727)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 0585
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 1998.
SYNOPSIS: On January 28, 1967, PFC William D. Thornton, Jr. was a rifleman
on a search and destroy mission in Long An Province, about 20 miles south of
Saigon. During the mission, PFC Thornton and another individual were ordered
to carry a captured boat to the unit's pickup zone.
After carrying the motor for 150 meters, the two men placed the motor in a
sampan they had found. The other individual left the area to retrieve gear
he'd left behind and when he returned to the location, Thornton was in the
middle of the stream going out with the tide.
Thornton was seen coming downstream in the sinking sampan. Two members of
his unit attempted to pull him from the sinking sampan to shore with a rope.
He stood up in the boat to remove his web gear and in doing so, fell into
the stream and was never seen again.
Extensive searches were made including shoreline, surface craft and divers,
but no trace of Thornton was ever found. He was declared dead, due to
hostile causes, body not recovered.
For William D. Thornton Jr., death seems a certainty. For hundreds of
others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of
nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the
certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war
were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be
prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers
when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents,
only to disappear without a trace.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of
us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to
bring these men home from Southeast Asia?