Unit: Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
Home City of Record: Franklin NC
Date of Loss: 12 Jul 1967
Loss Coordinates: 134026N 1073809E (YA850131)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
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 2009.
Other Personnel in Incident: Martin S. Frank; Cordine McMurray; Stanley A. Newell; Richard R. Perricone (all released); James F. Schiele; James L. Van Bendegom (both missing). Held with men from at least two other incidents including: Incident on 18 May 1967: Joe L. DeLong (missing); Incident on 17 Feb 1967: David W. Sooter (released).
July 12, 1967, SP4 Martin S. Frank, PFC Nathan B. Henry, Sgt. Cordine McMurray, PFC Stanley A. Newell, PFC Richard R. Perricone, SP4 James F. Schiele and PFC James L. Van Bendegom, all members of Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, were conducting a search and destroy mission along the Cambodian border when their position was overrun by the Viet Cong. With the execption of Schiele, all the men were captured. The U.S. Army notes that Schiele and Van Bendegom were captured by the North Vietnamese, while the others, apparently, were captured by Viet Cong.
PFC Schiele was seen by his platoon leader as his unit was forced to withdraw, leaving him behind. He had been hit a number of times by automatic weapons fire in the legs and chest and was thought to be dead. PFC Perricone stated in his debrief upon return to the U.S. that the enemy camp commander of Camp 102 told him that SP4 Schiele had died of wounds received in the fire fight. However, since there was no positive proof of death, the U.S. government placed Schiele in a Missing in Action category. Classified information given to the Vietnamese by Gen. John Vessey in 1987, however, states that both Schiele and Van Bendegom were captured by the North Vietnamese.
PFC Vanbendegom was also wounded in the engagement, and was seen alive by other Americans captured in the same battle about one week after his capture at a communist field hospital in Cambodia, not far from his capture location. One of the released Americans was later told by the commanding North Vietnamese officer at his prison camp in Cambodia that SP4 Vanbendegom had died of his wounds. Vanbendegom was categorized as a Prisoner of War.
The other seven Americans were held in prison camps on the Vietnam/Cambodia border for several months. According to the debriefs of releasees Sooter and Perricone, they and DeLong had attempted to escape from a border camp in Cambodia on November 6, 1967, but were recaptured the same day. Two days later, Sooter and Perricone were shown DeLong's bullet-ridden and blood-soaked trousers and were told that DeLong had been killed resisting recapture. The Vietnamese included DeLong's name on a list of prisoners who had died in captivity (saying he died in November 1967), did not return his remains, and did not offer any explanation.
Sooter, Frank, Henry, Perricone, McMurray and Newell were all released by the PRG in 1973. Frank was never known to be a prisoner by the U.S. Henry was injured, and maintains a permanent disability today. The U.S. is certain the Vietnamese also know the fates of DeLong, Schiele and Vanbendegom, but the Vietnamese continue to remain silent.
NATHAN B. HENRY (his early comments after release)
I am twenty-five years old and still single. I like girls and parties as well as the outdoors. I was born in Franklin, North Carolina, a small town in western North Carolina. I am the youngest of three boys and have no sisters.
I was drafted in September 1966 and arrived in Vietnam in February 1967. I was captured on 12 July 1967 in the La Drang Valley near the Cambodian border west of Pleiku. I was serving with the Fourth Infantry Division. My job was a radio operator (RTO). I was on a search and destroy mission when I was captured. I was in prison five years and eight months. I always kept faith in God and in my government. I would like to say these are the greatest days of my life since I have been given back my freedom.
I finished high school in 1965 and plan on going to college and majoring in forestry. I am thankful to God and the American people for my being alive today. America is the greatest country in the world and I hope we can keep it free throughout the future. It is hard to find words to express my gratitude to the American people. The only thing I can say is God bless you. I love each and every one of you.
Nathan Henry resided in North Carolina. He passed away January 2016.