Rank/Branch: E6/US Army
Unit: Command & Control
5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 23 August
1938 (Ridley Park PA)
Home City of Record: Pulaski
Date of Loss: 19 October
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 143500N
Status (in 1973): Missing
Other Personnel in Incident:
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 1990 from one
or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
SYNOPSIS: In Vietnam, Peter J Wilson was assigned to MACV-SOG
(Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group).
MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare
task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast
Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG
(although it was not a Special Forces group) while under secret
orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions
of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called,
depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie
On October 19, 1970, SSgt. Wilson was the team
leader of a long range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) that made contact
with a numerically superior enemy force in the tri-border of Laos
southwest of Ben Het. After the fourth contact with the enemy, Wilson
directed Sgt. John M Baker to the front of the patrol and told him
to continue to the east if the column was split. At that time,
Wilson was covering the rear of the patrol and assisting a wounded
indigenous soldier, Djuit. The patrol abandoned the battlefield
with the enemy in hot pursuit. later, Baker heard Wilson
transmit, "May Day, May Day" on his emergency radio and
the sounds of a firefight from the direction of the separated patrol
element. This was the last word of Peter Joe Wilson.
An intense air search was made for 3 days without
success. Wilson was never found, and is listed among nearly
600 Americans missing in Laos. Although the Pathet Lao stated
on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of
American prisoners, not one American was ever released that was
held in Laos. Laos was not part of the peace agreements ending
American involvement in Southeast Asia, and the U.S. has never negotiated
for these prisoners since that time.
For every insertion like Wilson's that was detected
and stopped, dozens of other commando teams safely slipped past
NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information.
The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance
teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most
sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence
gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military history.
MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat
effective deep penetration forces ever raised.
The missions Wilson and others were assigned were
exceedingly dangerous and of strategic importance. The men
who were put into such situations knew the chances of their recovery
if captured was slim to none. They quite naturally assumed
that their freedom would come by the end of the war. For 591
Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another
2500, however, freedom has never come.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating
to missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the
U.S., convincing many authorities that hundreds remain alive in
captivity. Peter J. Wilson could be among them. If so, what
must he think of us??
Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted
with those who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast
Asia, and several million documents have been studied. U.S. Government
experts cannot seem to agree whether Americans are there alive or
not. Distracters say it would be far too politically difficult to
bring the men they believe to be alive home, and the U.S. is content
to negotiate for remains.
Over 1000 eyewitness reports of living American prisoners were received
by 1989. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems
to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many
years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep pushing this
issue inside the Beltway, the need to get specific answers is more
important now than ever before. If still alive, some MIAs are now
in their 70s, they don't have much time left. We have to demand
the answers from the bureaucrats and keep standing on their necks
(figuratively speaking) until they get the message that THEY work
for US and that we are serious about getting these long overdue
responses. Diplomatic considerations aside, we can no longer allow
questionable protocols established by pseudo-aristocratic armchair
strategists, to determine or influence the fate of the men who were
in the trenches while the diplomats were sharing sherry and canapés
and talking about "Their Plans" for the future of SE Asia.
If you would like to help with this
cause please click the image below for more info.
Albert Mark Fransen
Peter Joe Wilson
Stephen Paul Hanson
David Louis Hrdlicka
All content © 2004 Debbie Ellis