LEDBETTER, THOMAS ISAAC
Name: Thomas Isaac Ledbetter
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment A-133, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 26 May 1936 (Bainbridge GA)
Home City of Record: Tampa FL
Loss Date: 19 June 1964
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 112447N 1061041E (XT325635)
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 1998.
Other Personnel In Incident: Sgt. James L. Talley (Missing); Sgt. Harry A.
Walling (killed); 103-man Montagnard company
REMARKS: MIA IN GRND FIGHT ON PATROL - J
SYNOPSIS: On June 17, 1964, Capt. Thomas L. Ledbetter, Sgt. James L. Talley
and Sgt. Harry Walling left the Special Forces camp at Polei Krong on a
two-day patrol with a 103-man Montagnard company. The patrol proceeded
through Tay Ninh Province to about 5 miles southeast of the provincial
Two days later, at the camp at Soui Da, a radio message was received from
Talley reporting that the team had walked into a Viet Cong battallion of
300-400 and that Captain Ledbetter had been wounded. He requested air
support and evacuation. He was unable to give an exact location.
Immediate help was sent, but was unable to locate the area of the battle.
Later that day, a company and a half were ready to leave on a search when 26
survivors, mostly wounded, began to come in, giving a grim description of
what had occurred. Captain Ledbetter, although shot in the leg, stabbed and
hit in the head, was last seen crawling away after the company was entirely
overrun. Some of the survivors reported that they had hidden in the brush
pretending to be dead and observed the Viet Cong burying bodies and lying in
wait for the search parties they knew would come. Some said that they had
seen Talley and Ledbetter being carried away by the Viet Cong.
The search for clues of the fate of Thomas Ledbetter, James Talley and Harry
Walling went on for over a week. Each day, the searchers encountered enemy
fire and engaged in battle, both on the ground and in the air. The search
was complicated by the fact that the Montagnards were unfamiliar with the
area and frequently became confused about the locations of the battles.
Eighty-six new graves were found, and several of them were opened. The grave
of Harry Walling was found and his body evacuated. Ledbetter and Talley were
The team felt at the time that Ledbetter and Talley had been captured.
Talley had medical experience and would have made a valuable prisoner to the
Viet Cong who were unable to adequately treat their wounded.
U.S. Government has received thousands of sighting reports of living
Americans in captivity in Southeast Asia. Because many of these reports
cannot be disproven, families of men like Tommy Ledbetter and Jim Talley
wonder if their loved one could still be waiting to be rescued by the
country they loved and served.
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