William George Saarela
Sergeant First Class
Army of the United States
Carlton, Minnesota
April 26, 1938 to August 12, 1972
WILLIAM G SAARELA is on the Wall at Panel W1, Line 64

William G Saarela
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18 Feb 2004

SFC William Saarela was one of the most competent Military Police NCOs that I ever had the privilege of knowing and serving with. He was a senior drill sergeant in B-11-4 at Fort Gordon when I commanded the unit after I returned from Vietnam in late 1969.

SFC Saarela was an inspiration to the trainees that he was charged with molding into honest, moral, competent Military Policemen, a task he took seriously and accomplished with the highest degree of professionalism. He was the epitome of what a Drill Sergeant should be and an inspiration for all of his men. We went through several cycles of trainees in the eighteen months that I commanded the unit and I can say, without reservation, that it was always his platoon that stood at the top at graduation.

A true leader, a loving husband, a wonderful father to his kids, and a fine example for "Of the Troops and For the Troops".

Timothy D. O'Toole
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret), MPC


A Note from The Virtual Wall

Shortly before dawn on 12 Aug 1972 a C-130E transport (tail number 62-1853) took off from Soc Trang. As the aircraft climbed through 500 feet it was hit by enemy fire and crashed near the airfield. Hobson's "Vietnam Air Losses" states that 30 of the 44 persons aboard were killed, but only 13 US servicemen can be identified as lost in the crash - 7 aircrew and 6 passengers. The remaining 17 persons must have been US civilians and/or SVN personnel.

Oddly, the 7 USAF and 3 USN personnel are coded as lost to hostile fire, while the 3 Army personnel, all members of MACV's Advisory Team 14, are coded as non-hostile losses. The 13 men who died are

  • Aircrew:
    • MAJ James W. Fulk, Union City, IN, 776th Tac Alft Sqd
    • MAJ Jerry D. Vance, Richmond, IN, 776th Tac Alft Sqd
    • CPT Terry Kohler, Kalamazoo, MI, 776th Tac Alft Sqd
    • CPT Merrill H. Masin, Sayville, NY, 776th Tac Alft Sqd
    • CPT Charles P. Roberts, La Junta, CO, 50th Tac Alft Sqd
    • CPT Timmie J. Ward, Rockford, IA, 776th Tac Alft Sqd
    • MSGT Ray E. Tannehill, Elsberry, MO, 50th Tac Alft Sqd

  • Passengers:
    • SFC Edward J. Brue, Newton, IA, MACV Advisors
    • SFC William G. Saarela, Carlton, MN, MACV Advisors
    • SFC Philip H. Stevens, Wahiawa, HI, MACV Advisors
    • LCDR Marshall B. Collins, Arlington, TX, Det Soc Trang, HQ, USNAVFORV
    • RM1 Raymond R. Reese, Scranton, PA, Det Soc Trang, HQ, USNAVFORV
    • YN1 Ben O. Sheppard, North Little Rock, AR, Det Soc Trang, HQ, USNAVFORV

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