Joe Palmer PedersonMaster Sergeant
595TH SIG CO, 36TH SIG BN, 2ND SIG GRP, 1ST SIG BDE, USARV
Army of the United States
12 July 1935 - 01 September 1978
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The database page for Joe Palmer Pederson
Memorial Day 2003
To my hero, You are always in my heart and I think of you often. You don't know me but I wear your name on my bracelet. You will never be forgotten and I will always shed a tear for you knowing that you are out there somewhere waiting to be found. The candle burns 24 hours a day in my window for your return home.
You are loved, my far away friend.
From one who wears his MIA bracelet,
A Note from The Virtual WallAt about 0830 hours on 23 June 1970, the 595th Signal Company's supply sergeant, SFC Joe P. Pederson, departed Dian in a GMC 2-1/2 ton truck for a supply run to the 595th's outlying stations at Lai Khe and Phuoc Vinh in Binh Doung Province. SFC Pederson was accompanied by SP4 James M. Rozo and PVT Robert P. Phillips . They arrived in Lai Khe at about 1000 and departed at about 1100 enroute Phuoc Vinh.
At 1530 the truck was found in a roadside ditch, both windscreens shattered by gunfire and the left front tire flat. Expended M-16 shell casings were found around the truck, but there was no sign of Pederson, Rozo, or Phillips. Ground and air searches located one dead Viet Cong, killed by a .45 caliber bullet (Pederson had carried a .45 sidearm), and three jammed M-16 rifles which proved to be those checked out by Pederson and his men. The searches did not locate the missing men, who were then formally placed in MIA status.
In September 1970 a VC defector claimed to be one of four VCs who ambushed the truck and captured the three men. The defector claimed that one of the Americans, a noncommissioned officer, died shortly after being captured and was buried not too far from the point of capture. The other two, he said, had been interrogated locally before being marched off in the direction of Cambodia. In November 1971, a captured VC soldier reported seeing two Americans being evacuated to Cambodia - his descriptions fit Rozo and Phillips.
As a result of these two debriefings SP4 Rozo and PVT Phillips were reclassified as prisoners of war while SFC Pederson was continued as Missing in Action. On 27 January 1973, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), better known as the Viet Cong, released a list containing the names of American POWs whom the VC said died in captivity, but none of the three were on that list nor were Pederson, Rozo, or Phillips among the POWs released in February/March 1973.
Over time the Secretary of the Army approved Presumptive Findings of death for the three men, Pederson on 01 Sep 1978, Phillips on 13 Feb 1979, and Rozo on 18 May 1979. Their remains have not been repatriated.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009