TAYLOR, WILLIAM BROOKS
Name: William Brooks Taylor
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: 221st Aviation Company, 16th Aviation Group
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Hamilton NC
Date of Loss: 20 March 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 102602N 1044221E (VS642510)
Status (in 1973): Escaped POW
Other Personnel in Incident: Leslie B. Sayre (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 1998.
REMARKS: Escaped May 6, 1968
SYNOPSIS: The O1 "Bird Dog" was used extensively in the early years of the
war in Vietnam by forward air controllers and provided low, close visual
reconnaissance and target marking which enabled armed aircraft or ground
troops to close in on a target. The Bird Dog was feared by the enemy,
because he knew that opening fire would expose his location and invite
attack by fighter planes controlled by the slowly circling Bird Dog. The
Vietnamese became bold, however, when they felt their position was
compromised and attacked the little Bird Dog with a vengeance in order to
lessen the accuracy of the impending air strike.
1LT Leslie B. Sayre was an O1D pilot assigned a reconnaissance mission in
Kien Giang Province, South Vietnam on March 20, 1968. His observer that day
was SGT William B. Taylor. When the aircraft was about 20 miles east of the
city of Ha Tien, it was shot down by enemy fire.
A woodcutter working in the area saw the crash and later reported to U.S.
intelligence sources that one man was killed and the Viet Cong carried the
wounded man off in the direction of Cuc Tam Cot Ninh. According to later
reports, Taylor was terribly wounded having broken bones and open wounds. A
U.S. Special Forces element conducted a search of the crash area, but the
results of the search are not on file.
A rallier claiming to be an eyewitness to the crash said the crash was in
Vinh Gia village, Chau Doc Province (this province borders Kien Giang to the
north and east, and the closest point, province to province is about 15
miles from the "official" location of loss as recorded by the Defense
Department.) Indigenous investigators visited the area several times and
brought back two aircraft data plates. The plates proved to be from a
helicopter, and were of no interest to U.S. officials.
On May 6, 1968, F4's and Cobras strafed and rocketed the Viet Cong camp
where Taylor was held. He was wounded by the Cobra rockets whose pilots had
no idea American POWs were held in the camp. As the VC scattered, Bill
crawled out of the camp in leg irons, waved at the Cobras and got their
attention. One Cobra swooped in and Taylor grabbed the skid. As they lifted
off, Taylor was shot off the skid by the Viet Cong. The Cobra returned,
threw him in the helicopter with his leg irons still on and lifted off.
He is the ONLY survivor of 28 military escapees to get out alive through
such an escape during the entire Vietnam war.
Sayre's file contained other information which was not yet available to the
public because it was classified. Its nature is completely unknown. It seems
inappropriate that information on a man the U.S. believes to be dead is
still classified after over 30 years. Surely his family would like to know
every detail, every nuance that leads to the conclusion that their loved one
Like hundreds of others, however, Sayre remains missing. Tragically, over
ten thousand reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have
been received by the U.S. Many authorities who have examined this
largely-classified information believe that there are hundreds of Americans
still alive today in Southeast Asia.
We are asked to take the Government's word that Sayre is dead, and accept
their word, also, that over ten thousand reports do not contain any
actionable information. Sayre, dead or alive, is still a prisoner in enemy
hands. And he has been abandoned by his country.
William Taylor retired from the United States Army as a Sgt. He and his
wife Carol reside in Colorado. He was interviewed by Tom Brokaw of NBC
Nightly News in April of 1999.
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