VAN BENDEGOM, JAMES LEE
Staff Sgt. James L. Van Bendegom,
U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion,
12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, was lost July 12, 1967, in
South Vietnam. He was accounted for Oct. 17, 2014. He will be buried
with full military honors.
According to the DPMO list the remains came back March 21, 1986.
Name: James Lee Van Bendegom
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
Date of Birth: 28 November 1948
Home City of Record: Kenosha WI
Date of Loss: 12 Jul 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 134026N 1073809E (YA850131)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.
Other Personnel In Incident: Nathan B. Henry; Cordine McMurray; Stanley A.
Newell; Martin S. Frank; Richard R. Perricone (all released); James F.
Schiele (missing). Held with men from at least two other incidents
including: Incident on 18 May 1967: Joe L. DeLong (missing); Incident on 17
Feb 1967: David W. Sooter (released)
REMARKS: WOUNDED; DIED IN CB DAYS LATER
SYNOPSIS: In the spring of 1973, 591 American Prisoners of War were released
from prisons and camps in Vietnam. Among them were six of a group of nine
U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division personnel captured in and near Pleiku
Province, South Vietnam during the year of 1967 whose lives had been
intertwined for the past six years. All had belonged to that part of the
"Ivy Division" which was assigned to Task Force Oregon conducting border
operations called Operation Sam Houston (1 Jan - 5 Apr 67) and Operation
Francis Marion (5 Apr - 12 Oct 67).
On February 17, 1967, W1 David W. Sooter was the only man captured from a
OH23 helicopter downed at the southeastern edge of Kontum Province near the
edge of Pleiku Province, and near the Cambodian border.
PFC Joe Lynn DeLong was the machine gunner for his company, on a
company-sized patrol in Rotanokiri Province, Cambodia on May 18, 1967.
(Note: most records list this loss as in South Vietnam, and coordinates
place it in the Ia Drang Valley, Pleiku Province, South Vietnam near the
border of Cambodia, but U.S. Army casualty reports state that the loss was
in Kotanokiri Province, Cambodia.) While on patrol, his unit was hit by a
Viet Cong force of unknown size and cut off from the rest of the company.
DeLong's platoon formed a defensive perimeter and attempted to hold their
position. Later that day, at about 1830 hours, DeLong's platoon position was
overrun. The next morning, another unit reached his position, and was able
to account for all platoon members except for DeLong. It was later learned
that DeLong had been captured.
Nearly two months later, on July 12, 1967, SP4 Martin S. Frank, PFC Nathan
B. Henry, Sgt. Cordine McMurray, PFC Stanley A. Newell, PFC Richard R.
Perricone, SP4 James F. Schiele and PFC James L. Van Bendegom, all members
of Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, were
conducting a search and destroy mission along the Cambodian border when
their position was overrun by the Viet Cong. With the exception of Schiele,
all the men were captured. The U.S. Army notes that Schiele and Van Bendegom
were captured by the North Vietnamese, while the others, apparently, were
captured by Viet Cong.
PFC Schiele was seen by his platoon leader as his unit was forced to
withdraw, leaving him behind. He had been hit a number of times by automatic
weapons fire in the legs and chest and was thought to be dead. PFC Perricone
stated in his debrief upon return to the U.S. that the enemy camp commander
of Camp 102 told him that SP4 Schiele had died of wounds received in the
fire fight. However, since there was no positive proof of death, the U.S.
government placed Schiele in a Missing in Action category. Classified
information given to the Vietnamese by Gen. John Vessey in 1987, however,
states that both Schiele and Van Bendegom were captured by the North
PFC Van Bendegom was also wounded in the engagement, and was seen alive by
other Americans captured in the same battle about one week after his capture
at a communist field hospital in Cambodia, not far from his capture
location. One of the released Americans was later told by the commanding
North Vietnamese officer at his prison camp in Cambodia that SP4 Van Bendegom
had died of his wounds. Van Bendegom was categorized as a Prisoner of War.
The other seven Americans were held in prison camps on the Vietnam/Cambodia
border for several months. According to the debriefs of releasees Sooter and
Perricone, they and DeLong had attempted to escape from a border camp in
Cambodia on November 6, 1967, but were recaptured the same day. Two days
later, Sooter and Perricone were shown DeLong's bullet-ridden and
blood-soaked trousers and were told that DeLong had been killed resisting
recapture. The Vietnamese included DeLong's name on a list of prisoners who
had died in captivity (saying he died in November 1967), did not return his
remains, and did not offer any explanation.
Sooter, Frank, Henry, Perricone, McMurray and Newell were all released by
the PRG in 1973. Frank was never known to be a prisoner by the U.S. Henry
was injured, and maintains a permanent disability today. The U.S. is certain
the Vietnamese also know the fates of DeLong, Schiele and Van Bendegom, but
the Vietnamese continue to remain silent.
Since the end of the war, only a few score of the many remains the
Vietnamese could provide have been returned to U.S. control. Each return of
remains signals some political move by the Vietnamese. Strong moves towards
normalization of relations began in the mid-80's, which most Americans would
not oppose. As evidence mounts that hundreds of Americans are still held
captive by these same governments the U.S. is rushing to befriend, many
concerned Americans believe that in our rush to leave Indochina, we
abandoned our best men. And that in our rush to return, we will sign their
South Vietnam James Lee Van Bendegom
On July 12, 1967, Private First Class Van Bendegom and other
members of his 4th Infantry Division were on patrol when they
engaged a hostile force in the Ia Drang Valley, Pleiku Province.
PFC Van Bendegom was wounded and treated by a medic. He was left
behind when his unit's position was overrun, and he was captured.
According to other U.S. POWs released during Operation Homecoming,
it was rumored that PFC Van Bendegom was taken from Pleiku Province
into Cambodia and was treated at a field hospital. His name did
not appear on the PRG died in captivity list. He was declared
dead/body not recovered in May 1973.
In April 1989, a U.S. field team in Vietnam interviewed former
officers assigned to the B-3 Front, the People's Army of Vietnam
theater headquarters in command of operations in Pleiku Province.
They were unable to provide any information on PFC Van Bendegom.
During 1992, U.S. investigators in Vietnam received information
describing the death of three Americans in captivity. One death
was correlated to PFC Van Bendegom.
October 26, 2014
Homecoming for Kenosha MIA
After 47 years, remains of Van Bendegom to return homePublished October 22
By Jon Brines
When Kenosha's own James Lee Van Bendegom was a teenager, he dropped out of Bradford High School to join the U.S. Army to fight in the Vietnam War.
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