Remains Returned 14 August 1985

Name: Melvin Wayne Finch
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Date of Birth: 10 November 1944
Home City of Record: Ft. Belvoir VA
Date of Loss: 30 March 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 141627N 1074920E (ZA045798)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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.


SYNOPSIS: The Hughes Aircraft OH6A "Loach" helicopter was envisioned as an
all-purpose helicopter to perform such duties as personnel or cargo
transport, light ground attack or casualty evacuation, observation, and
photographic reconnaissance. In South Vietnam, the Loach proved most
effective at visual reconnaissance, searching out signs of the enemy in even
heavily defended areas. Its crew peered through gaps in the jungle canopy in
search of tracks, cooking fires, huts, or other signs of the enemy as the
light helicopter skimmed the treetops.

Capt. Melvin W. Finch was onboard an OH6A on a combat mission in South
Vietnam on March 30, 1972. The mission was a recon of a bunker-hooch complex
about 12 miles west-southwest of Kontum. During the mission, small arms fire
from one of the hooches downed the helicopter. Finch and SP4 Blackwood, also
on the aircraft, got out of the crashed helicopter alive.

Finch was dazed and injured and had blood on his face and in his eyes. As he
departed the aircraft he began running toward enemy fire. Blackwood was
unable to get his attention to alert him to run the other way. Blackwood
crawled 30 meters to a nearby road and was rescued.

Melvin Finch was alive the last time he was seen, and the Department of
Defense gave him an enemy knowledge category of "1" which indicates the
enemy certainly did know his fate. However, Finch was not listed Prisoner of
War, but Missing in Action.

In February 1974, after 591 Americans had been released from prison camps in
Vietnam, released ARVN POWs reported and identified Finch and returnee
Reeder as two U.S. Army captains they had been held with before the two
Americans were moved north.

Other unspecified information indicates that Finch died in captivity with
other Americans in Quang Binh Province (just north of the DMZ) in September

Melvin Finch's final classification by the Department of Defense was Killed
or Died in Captivity. Although the U.S. is certain the Vietnamese could
account for him, they continue to deny any knowledge of him.

Nearly 2500 Americans remain missing or otherwise unaccounted for in
Vietnam. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports concerning missing
Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many
experts are completely convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held

One set of critics say that the U.S. has done little to address the issue of
live POWs, preferring the politically safer issue of remains return. Others
place the blame on the Vietnamese, for using the issue of POW/MIA to their
political advantage. Regardless of blame, no living American has returned
through the efforts of negotiations between the countries, and the reports
continue to pour in. Are we doing enough to bring these men home?

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