THORNTON, WILLIAM DEMPSEY JR.
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 Company
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 History@redcatcher.org
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?