Peter Joe Wilson

Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Special Forces

Unit: Command & Control Central, MACV-SOG, 
5th Special Forces Group

Date of Birth: 23 August 1938 (Ridley Park PA)

Home City of Record: Pulaski NY

Date of Loss: 19 October 1970

Country of Loss: Laos

Loss Coordinates: 143500N 1072530E

Status (in 1973): Missing In Action

Category: 2

Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

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 Fire" missions.

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.

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