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 2000.
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, a force of armed helicopters attacked a guerrilla camp with machine guns and rockets, unaware that Sgt Taylor was in the camp. Sgt Taylor, who was still recovering from a compound fracture to one leg, a shattered knee, and numerous abrasions and burns he suffered in an air crash on 20 March 1968, received additional wounds from one of the rockets; yet he still managed to take advantage of the confusion during the air attack to crawl out of the camp and into a clearing where he signaled the crew of one of the helicopters. 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 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.
William Taylor retired from the United States Army as a Sgt. He and his wife Carol reside in Colorado where he has a farm. He was interviewed by Tom Brokaw of NBC Nightly News in April of 1999. He works with the Disabled American Veterans as a service officer.