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|SYNOPSIS: On June 16, 1970, SSgt. Deverton C. Cochran was team leader and SP4 Carl J. Laker the assistant team leader of a reconnaissance team from Company H, 75th Infantry, 1st Cavalry Division on an area search mission in Cambodia.|
|1st Squadron, 9th
Cavalry was an aerial reconnaissance cavalry squadron operating with an aero-scout
("white") platoon; aero-weapons ("red") platoon, and an aero-rifle
("blue") platoon. The squadron also had a ground cavalry element. Cochrane is
listed as attached to "75th Infantry, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry
Division." Laker, however, is listed as assigned to Company H of the 75th Infantry,
1st Cavalry Division, which is a Ranger unit. If these unit designations are accurate,
then Laker was a Ranger while Cochrane was probably a "blue" assigned to the
Company H mission. In 1970, the Company H strength was 198 men. The 75th Infantry
("Merrill's Marauders") had only been organized the beginning of 1969 to provide
a parent unit for the separate long-range reconnaissance patrol companies (LRRP). Ranger
companies in Vietnam were particularly elite.
The team was operating just inside Cambodia in Mondol Kiri Province due east of the South Vietnam city of Dak Song. After a successful infiltration, the team set up in the vicinity to conduct a trail watch and to establish a night defensive position.
The next morning, the team moved out to conduct reconnaissance until 1535 hours when, upon entering a wood line, the team leader was fired upon by enemy troops. Members of the team saw the team leader fall holding his neck and loin. SP4 Laker tried to crawl forward to assist, and fell on top of another member of the team who later reported that Laker had been hit above the left eye, gravely wounded.
The team finally managed to break contact and one member was able to evade the enemy and return to friendly lines. An extensive search was made of the battle area for several days, but only 2 wounded members of the team were rescued. There was no trace of Cochrane or Laker.
Although the Ranger missions were hazardous, few remain missing from them. Laker was classified as Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered because the extent of his injuries were known, and they were serious. Cochrane's injuries, on the other hand, could not be assessed, and it was felt there was the possibility of survival and ultimate capture. Cochrane was classified Missing in Action.
Laker and Cochrane are among nearly 2500 Americans still prisoner, missing or unaccount for from the Vietnam war. Some, like Carl Laker, are undoubtedly dead. Others were certainly not dead, but in good health the last they were seen. Still others were seen as prisoners or even photographed, only to disappear from the prison system.
Unlike "MIAs" from other wars, most of the missing from Vietnam can be accounted for, if Vietnam chooses to do so. Based on thousands of refugee reports, most authorities now believe that hundreds of Americans are still alive today, held against their will. For the honor of those who died, and for the honor of our country, these men must be brought home.
|Thanks to Ron Fleischer.|
|"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."|
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