Donald S. Newton was a member of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) when he and Francis D. Willis went missing on February 26, 1966. Both men were listed as Missing in Action, in spite of the fact that Newton was reported, by name, alive and in enemy hands. Government records state that at approximately 0745, on February 26th, Newton and Willis "Left the patrol to conduct a routine reconnaissance out from the patrol area, a distance not to exceed 250 meters and then return. By 1300 hours, they had not returned to the patrol area, search teams were sent to look for the two missing men. Again, on 27 Feb 66 search parties were sent to look for the individual but with negative results."
On March 24th, ARVN (Army Republic of Vietnam) officer Lt. Tran Tien, provided information obtained from a source. According to Lt. Tien's report; On 28 February 1966 two American approached from the north to grid coordinates BQ97733763. They dug a two man foxhole where they remained for the duration of the night of 28 February 1966. At approximately 0700 hours on 1 March 1966, an L-19 airplane flew over. The Americans signaled the airplane with three red smoke grenades. The Vietnamese Communists (Viet Cong) (VC) had apparently been watching them from the time they arrived at BQ977373 until they threw the smoke grenades. The VC realizing they were in trouble then attacked the two Americans killing Wills and wounding the Caucasian...... The Caucasian was taken prisoner, given medical attention, interrogated, and then paraded before the local (word unreadable) for the purpose of propaganda.... the VC held the Caucasian in the area until the morning of 3 March 1966 when they moved him south... prior to moving the American they dressed him in a khaki uniform...."
The source described the captured American as Caucasian 5'8" or 5'9", thin build with hair described as red or blond. He was wearing a camouflage uniform with soft brown wide brim hat, jungle boots. He carried a shot gun and .45 caliber pistol and his name was Newton.
On that same day, another source reported the incident stating that Willis "was captured by the VC during the fighting and then killed. Both sources stated that ‘Newton' was wounded in the arm and then captured alive by the VC."
How did the description of "Newton" stack up against the description held in U.S. records? According to those records Donald Newton is described as Caucasian, 5'6", medium build with reddish blond hair.
Two additional sources report "that a Caucasian with a name tag "Newton" was paraded alive through several VC villages."
Four sources independently confirmed Donald S. Newton as alive and in enemy hands. It would be some 20+ years before the Vietnamese government would acknowledge his captivity. It would be another 14+ years before that acknowledgment would be publicly known. Source reporting and Vietnamese official acknowledge Donald S. Newton survived into captivity. When will the U.S. Government acknowledge it and when will they ask the Vietnamese to return Donald Newton.
During preparation for the 11th iteration of Joint Activities with the Vietnamese, in August 1990, a message was sent from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington D.C. to the Commander of the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (now JPAC.) Information contained in the message traffic was to be presented "in writing" to the Vietnamese. Outlining the case of Donald Newton and Francis Willis, the message stated;
"Sergeant Donald S. Newton was taken to the 102nd Dispensary under the jurisdiction of Military Region Five after treatment for injuries. Request you locate and make available to US any records concerning Sergeant Newton's treatment at this medical facility – request that you locate and make available for interview individuals who served in the Prisoner of War section, the Enemy Proselyting, the Military Proselyting or the Security Section, of the Phu Khanh Province Committee during the time Sergeant Newton was in that area. Those individual would likely have information on Sergeant Newton."
"Request that you locate and make available for interview witness to the movement of sergeant Newton by the 250th Transportation Group or Military Region Five or the Prisoner of War section of B3 Headquarters." Request that you locate and make available for interview witnesses to Sergeant Newton's movements up the Strategic Route which was under the jurisdiction of Group 559."
We don't known if the witnesses requested were ever interviewed by JTFFA. We do know that POW Donald Newton remains unaccounted for. Clearly, the Vietnamese know more about Donald Newton and his fate. This is just another example of Vietnamese "full cooperation" and the willingness of U.S. officials to declare individuals "fate determined" in the absence of actual evidence.
View the Tourison Memos
View July 22, 1992 Document
View August 1, 1992 Document
The 19 New POW Cases Part I
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