SAYRE, LESLIE BERKLEY

Name: Leslie Berkley Sayre
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: 221st Aviation Company, 16th Aviation Group
Date of Birth: 28 November 1944 (Corpus Christi TX)
Home City of Record: Fairborn OH
Date of Loss: 20 March 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 102602N 1044221E (VS642510)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1D
Refno: 1097

Other Personnel in Incident: William B. Taylor (escaped POW)

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: none.

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. 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.

William B. Taylor escaped from a Viet Cong prison camp on May 6, 1968, and was picked up by U.S. Army helicopter. He is only of a only handful who were fortunate enough to escape captivity during the Vietnam war.

Sayre’s file contains other information which is not available to the public because it is 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 20 years. Surely his family would like to know every detail, every nuance that leads to the conclusion that their loved one is dead.

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.