Gary Francis Shaw

Private First Class
Army of the United States
13 March 1948 - 11 November 1967
Toledo, OH
Panel 29E Line 076


Distinguished Service Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign


The database page for Gary Francis Shaw

The battle of Dak To was the longest and most violent in the highlands since the battle of the Ia Drang in 1965. Enemy casualties numbered in the thousands, with an estimated 1,400 killed. Americans had suffered too. Approximately one-fifth of the 173d Airborne Brigade had become casualties, with 174 killed, 642 wounded, and 17 missing in action.

As the battle built toward its climax, the 173rd Airborne Brigade conducted aggressive sweeps of the area around Dak To. On one of these sweeps, on 11 November, troops from C Co, 1/503 Infantry, were engaged by North Vietnamese regulars. Four men - PFC Edwin Martinez-Mercado, PFC Gary Shaw, PVT John Stuckey and SP4 Robert Staton - were seen to have been shot during the engagement but they could not be recovered. When the area later was searched for casualties, their bodies were not found. They were classed as "Missing in Action, Body not Recovered".

Shaw's actions on 11 November were sufficient for him to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, but it would be nearly 30 years before his death on the battlefield could be positively confirmed. In 1996, it was reported that a DoD investigation of Shaw's case uncovered new evidence:

"Officials were able to find two medics who were in a battle with Pfc. Gary Shaw near Dak To on Nov. 11, 1967.

"There, while trying to help fellow soldiers who were shot, the young soldier was hit by a hail of enemy gunfire, according to the letter from the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Investigators were able to find records showing Private Shaw took part in the Battle of Dak To. ... During the battle, several soldiers who were hit by enemy gunfire say the young private was a hero, carrying them safely from enemy fire. ... For those deeds, Gary Shaw was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry, with his family members accepting the award for him in 1968 at the University of Toledo.

"A year ago, the defense department went to work on the case. They talked to some of the servicemen who said they were rescued by Private Shaw. But then they got a break: A medic, who apparently was not interviewed before, said he remembered Private Shaw.

"The medic also recalled the young private was hit numerous times. A former sergeant remembered Private Shaw being hit by enemy AK-47 assault rifles in the chest and back.

"A senior aide then checked Private Shaw for any signs of life, said the letter. The aide said that 'Private Shaw was unmistakably dead.'"

From the Toledo Blade
by Staff Writer Michael D. Sallah, 1996

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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