Samuel Joseph Padgett
Official records show SFC Padgett died from injuries received while a passenger aboard a military aircraft (CH34 Sikorsky Choctaw Cargo Helicopter) flying from Da Nang to Kham Duc, when the aircraft lost power and crashed. The helicopter piloted by a Vietnamese Pilot, Co-Pilot and door gunner, names and ranks unknown, were an Aircrew for the Vietnamese Air Force, 219th Vietnamese Helicopter Squadron, Da Nang Air Base and they were carrying newly assigned team leaders from FOB-4 to MACSOG Recon School at Kham Duc.
A rescue team was dispatched to the crash site immediately, and the rescue team saw bodies in the burning aircraft, but the bodies could not be extracted at that time because of the extreme heat of the fire. When the wreckage had cooled so that the remains could be removed, they were taken to Da Nang mortuary for positive identification.
At Da Nang, 3 American's remains were identified by matching dental records and the fourth, SFC Samuel Joseph Padgett, was still missing in action. The 3 men identified were:
When their bodies first were recovered, the papers posted the notice below:
SFC Padgett's remains still had not been recovered. A thorough search of the area around the crash site was conducted on the day of the crash and again on April 12. The second search, unsuccessful, was conducted by two platoons of soldiers.
Although the chances that Padgett escaped the aircraft seem slim, no remains were returned that can be attributed to him. Therefore, a possible escape was considered. However, since the helicopter did not fall to enemy fire, but to malfunction of some sort, Padgett would probably have been detected in the area by searchers, even if he had been wounded or disoriented. Witnesses to the crash did not believe anyone survived the intense fire following the crash of the helicopter.
He was declared missing in action on April 10, 1968 which was changed to dead on 27 May 1968. The change was based upon the determintion of a Board of Officers convened by the Commanding General, United States Army, Vietnam which carefully investigated the circumstances concerning his missing status. His remains have not yet been recovered.
SFC Padgett was survived by his wife, Peggy L. Padgett (1938-1994), N. Victor Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma who was living with Samuel's parents, Edna (1914-1986) and Claude V. (1907-1973) Padgett. His casualty record with emergency contact data show that he was also survived by his 4 children (3 daughters and a son - Michael), Melinda / Michael G. Wood and Sammie J. / Melissa A. Padgett.
SFC Padgett has an "In Memory of" Marker at Memorial Park Cemetery, Tulsa, Oklahoma. His wife and parents are interred at Memorial Park.
- - The Virtual Wall, November 6, 2014
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