Name: Wilbert Walton
Rank/Branch: E1/US Army
Unit: Battery C., 3rd Battalion, 16th Artillery, 23rd Infantry Division
Date of Birth: 15 March 1947
Home City of Record: Fayetteville NC
Date of Loss: 03 January 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: BT530050
Status (in 1973): Absent Without Leave (AWOL)
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: ground
Refno: 2055
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance
of 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: In late 1969, Pvt. Wilbert Walton was court martialed for falling
asleep on guard and failure to appear at his post. On January 3, 1970,
Walton disappeared from his artillery unit in Quang Tin Province, South
Others in the unit speculated that Walton might have disappeared because of
a minor incident that had occurred about a month before at the battalion's
motor pool. Walton had already been reprimanded once, and may have been
apprehensive about future punishment because of this minor incident. No
punishment was planned, according to his superiors.
For the next month the Army, Walton's parents, and Congressmen tried to
locate Wilbert Walton without success. The Army removed him from the rolls
in February 1970, and the last notation in his record was that he deserted.
The Army can find no record indicating where or by whom Walton was last
seen. The Army does not know if Walton was involved in combat, or simply on
leave at the time he was lost. One veteran said, "People don't understand
what was going on over there. [Walton] could have been snatched off the
streets by the Viet Cong. He could have wandered into the wrong village.
Categorizing this guy as a deserter was like convicting him without a
In 1981, an administrative review was conducted of Walton's case, and it was
determined that there was not enough evidence that Walton deserted, and his
status was changed to Missing in Action, Presumed Dead. AWOL is not an
easily changed status, and Walton's record, after over ten years, is
cleared. Wilbert Walton's name was added to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
in Washington, D.C. on Veteran's Day, 1989. He is listed among roughly
58,000 Americans who lost their lives in Southeast Asia.
Also listed among the 58,000 are the majority of those Americans who remain
Prisoner of War or Missing in Action. As reports mount relating to these
men, many Americans wonder why their names are inscribed on a memorial to
the dead. Many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive, held against their will in Southeast Asia today. No one really knows
what happened to Wilbert Walton on January 3, 1970. He could be one of those
thought to be alive. It's time we brought our men home.