Thomas Isaac LedbetterCaptain
DET A-133 (POLEI KRONG), 5TH SF GRP, MACV
Army of the United States
26 May 1936 - 20 June 1965
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The database page for Thomas Isaac Ledbetter
I never met this man but he affected my young life greatly. His daughters and wife were my best friends and I spent many hours, days and nights with them. I always felt his absence and as the girls got older I could see how the loss affected them. I never go past the WALL without looking at his name and wondering what his family's life would/could have been with him.
This year I took my 10 and 13 year old kids to see the WALL. We showed them mom and dad's friend's names and once again I am stunned my the losses shown. What a tragic story and again as I scroll down the web looking for a name these poor men didn't even know what a webpage was. May their precious souls rest in peace and I thank them for giving their life for me!!!!!!!
1200 Robin Ave, Miami Springs, FL 33166
A Note from The Virtual WallOn June 17, 1964, Captain Thomas L. Ledbetter, Sergeant James L. Talley, and Sergeant Harry Walling left the Special Forces camp at Polei Krong on a two-day patrol with a 103-man Montagnard company. The patrol proceeded through Tay Ninh Province to about 5 miles southeast of the provincial capitol.
Two days later, at the camp at Soui Da, a radio message was received from Talley reporting that the team had walked into a Viet Cong battalion of 300-400 men and that Captain Ledbetter had been wounded. He requested air support and evacuation. He was unable to give an exact location.
Immediate help was sent, but was unable to locate the area of the battle. Later that day, a company and a half were ready to leave on a search when 26 survivors, mostly wounded, began to come in, giving a grim description of what had occurred. Captain Ledbetter, although shot in the leg, stabbed and hit in the head, was last seen crawling away after the company was entirely overrun. Some of the survivors reported that they had hidden in the brush pretending to be dead and observed the Viet Cong burying bodies and lying in wait for the search parties they knew would come. Some said that they had seen Talley and Ledbetter being carried away by the Viet Cong.
The search for clues of the fate of Thomas Ledbetter, James Talley and Harry Walling went on for over a week. Each day, the searchers encountered enemy fire and engaged in battle, both on the ground and in the air. The search was complicated by the fact that the Montagnards were unfamiliar with the area and frequently became confused about the locations of the battles. Eighty-six new graves were found, and several of them were opened. The grave of Harry Walling was found and his body evacuated. Ledbetter and Talley were not found.
The team felt at the time that Ledbetter and Talley had been captured. Talley had medical experience and would have made a valuable prisoner to the Viet Cong who were unable to adequately treat their wounded.
The Secretary of the Army approved Presumptive Findings of Death for Captain Ledbetter and Sergeant Talley, establishing (for legal purposes) their date of death as 20 June 1965, a year and a day after the fight in which they were lost.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 10 Feb 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009