Name: Franklin Zollicoffer
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: U.S. Army Installation - Pleiku
Date of Birth: 22 November 1950 (Attala County MS)
Home City of Record: Kosciusko MS
Date of Loss: 24 April 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 143918N 1074711E (ZB001219)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
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: Robert W. Brownlee; George W. Carter; James E.
Hunsicker; Johnny M. Jones; Kenneth J. Yonan; Wade L. Ellen (all missing);
Charles M. Lea; Rickey V. Vogel (helicopter crew, rescued); Julius G.
Warmath; John P. Keller; Walter H. Ward (helicopter passengers, rescued);
Charles W. Gordon, Cao Ky Chi (evaded capture near Dak To)
REMARKS: KIA ON ISLE - 5 RCV - NT SUBJ - J
SYNOPSIS: On the evening of April 23, 1972, Capt. Kenneth J. Yonan
accompanied his ARVN counterpart to a water tower located on the
northwestern edge of the Tanh Canh base camp compound near Dak To, Kontum
Province, South Vietnam. Yonan was an advisor assigned to Advisory Team 22,
MACV, and was assisting the ARVN 42nd Regiment based there.
At about 0530 hours on April 24, Capt. Yonan was still in the water tower
when Viet Cong attacked the camp perimeter. Although tanks fired at and hit
the water tower, two other advisors spoke to Capt. Yonan after the firing
and Yonan reported that he was not hit and planned to join the other
advisors when it was safe to do so. Radio contact was maintained with Yonan
until 0730 hours. The other U.S. advisors began escape and evasion
operations from the beleaguered compound.
Team 22 Advisors Maj. George W. Carter, Maj. Julius G. Warmath, and Capt.
John P. Keller, were extracted by helicopter. The aircraft was a UH1H from
the 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, (serial #69-15715) and was
flown by Lt. James E. Hunsicker. WO Wade L. Ellen was the co-pilot of the
chopper, and SP4 Charles M. Lea, and SP5 Rickey V. Vogel were crewmen. Other
persons extracted included 1Lt. Johnny M. Jones, from the 52nd Aviation
Battalion; SP4 Franklin Zollicoffer, from the U.S. Army Installation at
Pleiku, and Sgt. Walter H. Ward, unit not specified.
The helicopter departed to the northwest from Dak To, but was apparently hit
by enemy fire, as it crashed and burned on a small island in the Dak Poko
River about 500 meters from the end of the dock to the runway. Because of
the rolling terrain, personnel at the airfield did not see the aircraft
impact. A pilot flying over the wreckage reported that the helicopter was
burning, but they could see no survivors. It was later discovered that five
people did survive the crash - Warmath, Keller, Vogel, Ward and Lea.
According to their statements, Hunsicker, Ellen, Zollicoffer, Jones and
Carter were all dead.
Two other Team 22, MACV Advisors, LtCol. Robert W. Brownlee and Capt.
Charles W. Gordon, and their ARVN interpreter, Sgt. Cao Ky Chi, were in a
bunker near the airstrip approximately 4 kilometers to the west of the base
camp when they were forced to withdraw under heavy enemy attack. They
proceeded south of the compound across the Dak Poko River, but LtCol.
Brownlee became separated from the others as they were advancing up a hill.
Sgt. Chi and Capt. Gordon called out to him, but received no response. From
the top of the hill, Sgt. Chi heard the enemy call out to someone in
Vietnamese to halt and raise their hands. Sgt. Chi believed the Viet Cong
were speaking to LtCol. Brownlee. Gordon and Chi evaded capture and
eventually made their way to safety.
A Vietnamese who was captured and subsequently released reported that he had
talked to another prisoner who had witnessed LtCol.Brownlee's death. He was
told that LtCol. Brownlee had killed himself with his own pistol when
communist soldiers told him to raise his hands in an attempt to capture him.
Additional hearsay reports of his suicide were reported by another ARVN
Yonan never caught up with the others. For three days, helicopter searches
were made of the area with no success. Ground search, because of the hostile
threat in the area, was not practical.
In April 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Capt. Kenneth J.
Yonan and returned them to the U.S. in a spirit of stepped-up cooperation on
the POW/MIA issue. For nearly 20 years, this 1969 West Point graduate was a
prisoner of war - alive or dead. His family now knows with certainty that he
is dead, but may never learn how - or when - he died.
In addition to the reports regarding Brownlee's death, a South Vietnamese
soldier reported that he observed the capture of one "big" American from the
camp. Another report described the capture of a U.S. Captain stationed at
Since the war ended, reports and refugee testimony have convinced many
authorities that not only do the Vietnamese possess several hundred sets of
Americans' remains, more startlingly, they also control hundreds of living
As long as they are allowed to do so, the Vietnamese will return remains at
politically expedient intervals. As long as they are allowed to do so, they
will hold our men prisoner.
Official data bases do not tell the whole story of this mission.
While Rickey Von Vogel is only noted as "rescued", in reality, Sp5 Vogel was
missing from April 24, 1972 until his return to military control May 6,
1972. During that time, despite severe wounds that included bullet wounds
and broken bones, he managed to escape and evade capture for almost 2 weeks
until his rescue.
Rickey Vogel was awarded the Purple Heart and 3 Air Medals in addition to
various Vietnam awards and decorations for his service. After his medical
evacuation and recovery, he continued to serve his country until his
discharge in 1974.
|Rickey Von Vogel
Death of SP/4 Franklin Zollicoffer
Franklin was wounded beyond our capability to help him, on the second day the N.V.A. sent a 7 man patrol to check our Crash Site for survivor's he begged us to let them kill him! We gagged him with his sock's smeared river mud on our hand's & face's. Remember me & my D.G. Lea are the only to people who could hold a rifle and defend ourselves. To make a long story short they took a smoke break me & my D,G, had a deadly cross-fire ambush set up if we were discovered. Thank God they pushed on across the river, after we ungagged Frank he broke all our heart's trying
to shove his colt45 into our hand's begging for the (Coup-De-Grace) bullet of mercy, he was a southern Baptist Minister before becoming a Combat Medic, we refused his request all saying they will get us out, Don't worry!
Well by day 3 he got pissed at all of us and said he was going to drag his self to drown in the River, he expired1/2 way there. He shared a shallow grave with my P.P, Wade Ellen from north Folk VA. This mis-information pisses me off that has been posted. The army told his folk's his chopper crashed into a mountain & died instantly! I asked his mother if she wanted the truth or the army's story. He was her baby of the family. She chose the truth!
In Loving Memory of the finest man I have known. Me & My D.G. Lea buried him side by side with WO/1 Wade Ellen.
From: "W Page"
Subject: POW- Kenneth Yonan - captured mid May in bunker
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 20:50:32 -0500
My interest in POW/MIA (returned) Kenneth Yonan is very personal. Some of us ( D 1/12th Cav in AO at the time) were tasked to rescue him but couldn't because of the numerically superior enemy and armor.
Thought you may be interested to know of this document found at the Texas Tech Archives. The archive document number is actually the numerals within the named file. View the very last page at the bottom. Before Jimmy Gillespie ( my buddy in D 1/12th Cav), who was with me passed away he had reminded me of an American who had come into our tiny AO and stayed a bit and left. We never knew who he was. We always wondered if it could have been Ken Yonan or someone else. So many records are wrong or incomplete.
Note that Kenneth Yonan had previously been the CO of D 1/12th Cav before he transferred to Adv. Team 22. Captain Dombrosky replaced him at D 1/12th and in turn Captain John H. Wheeler replaced Capt. Dombrosky about mid March 1972.