Name: John Edward Wilburn
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division
Date of Birth: 12 February 1944
Home City of Record: Luther OK
Date of Loss: 19 April 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162211N 1070836E (YD291105)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D
Refno: 1133
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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: On April 19, 1968, SP4 Wilburn, a member of Company A, 1st
Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division, was participating in a
combat assault mission into the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam. The helicopter
in which he was a passenger was hit in the tail section by hostile
anti-aircraft fire and started to spin. This caused Wilburn to fall out of
the left door of the helicopter from an altitude of between 3000 and 4000

No search was possible because of the tactical situation, the nature of the
terrain, and difficulty of establishing a reasonable geographic location at
which he fell out of the aircraft.

John E. Wilburn is listed among the missing because his body was never
found. Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were
known captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards.
Some were in radio contact with search teams, while others simply

Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those
who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several
million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to
agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be
far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive
home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.

Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still
alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still
classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the
secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?




Service Member


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Specialist 4 (SP4) John Edward Wilburn entered the U.S. Army from Oklahoma and served in Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On April 19, 1968, he was a passenger aboard a UH-1D operating in the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam.  The helicopter in which he was riding was hit in the tail section by enemy anti-aircraft fire and entered a spin. During the spin, SP4 Wilburn was thrown from the helicopter at an altitude of between three thousand to four thousand feet in the vicinity of (GC) YD 291 105.  Due to hostile forces in the area, ground searches were not conducted and SP4 Wilburn was not seen again. Further attempts to locate him were unsuccessful. Today, Specialist 4 Wilburn 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 Active Pursuit.

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