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Spec Thomas Hepburn Perry
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Birth: Jun. 20, 1942
District Of Columbia, USA
Death: May 10, 1968
Trung Tin, Vietnam

Name: Thomas Hepburn Perry
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment A-105, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 19 June 1942 (Washington DC)
Home City of Record: Canton Center, CT
Date of Loss: 10 May 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 152208N 1074541E (YC965009)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
REFNO: 1167

Kham Duc Special Forces camp (A-105), was located on the western fringes of Quang Tin ("Great Faith") Province, South Vietnam. In the spring of 1968, it was the only remaining border camp in Military Region I. Backup responsibility for the camp fell on the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal), based at Chu Lai on the far side of the province.

Thomas Perry, a medic from C Company, arrived at the camp at 0530 hours the morning of the 10th of May. He cared for the wounded and was assisting in an attempt to establish a defensive perimeter when the decision was made to evacuate the camp. As survivors were leaving, Perry was seen by Sgt. Cordell J. Matheney, Jr., standing 20 feet away, as Australian Army Capt. John White formed the withdrawal column at the outer perimeter wire on the eastern Ngok Tavak hillside. It was believed that Perry was going to join the end of the column.

All the weapons, equipment and munitions that could not be carried were hastily piled into the command bunker and set afire. The helicopter that had been grounded by a ruptured fuel line was destroyed with a LAW.

After survivors had gone about 1 kilometer, it was discovered that Perry was missing. Efforts were conducted to locate both Perry and Miller, including a search by a group from Battery D. They were searching along the perimeter when they were hit by enemy grenades and arms fire. Neither the men on the team nor Perry was ever found. Included in this team were PFC Thomas Blackman; LCpl. Joseph Cook; PFC Paul Czerwonka; LCpl. Thomas Fritsch; PFC Barry Hempel; LCpl. Raymond Heyne; Cpl. Gerald King; PFC Robert Lopez; PFC William McGonigle; LCpl. Donald Mitchell; and LCpl. James Sargent. The remaining survivors evaded through dense jungle to a helicopter pickup point midway to Kham Duc. Their extraction was completed shortly before 1900 hours on the evening of May 10.

Two search and recovery operations were conducted in the vicinity of OP1 and OP2 and the Cam Duc airfield on July 18, 1970 and August 17, 1970. In these operations, remains of personnel previously reported missing from this incident were recovered and subsequently identified. (SP4 Bowers, PFC Lloyd, Sgt. Sisk, PFC Guzman-Rios and SSgt. Carter). However, extensive search and excavation could not be completed at OP1 and OP2 because of the tactical situation.

It was assumed that all the missing at Kham Duc were killed in action until about 1983, when the father of one of the men missing discovered a Marine Corps document which indicated that four of the men had been taken prisoner. The document listed the four by name. Until then, the families had not been advised of the possibility there were any American prisoners taken other than Julius
Long. A Vietnamese rallier identified the photograph of Roy C. Williams as positively having been a POW.

Until proof is obtained that the rest of the men lost at Ngok Tavak and Kham Duc are dead, their families will always wonder if they are among those said to still be alive in Southeast Asia.

NOTE: Thomas is actress Katharine Hepburn's Nephew.

Canton's Thomas Perry Ignored Chance To Escape To Treat The Wounded In Vietnam.

Thomas Perry was running for safety during a battle in Vietnam in 1968 when he stopped, turned around, and returned to a position being overrun by the enemy.

There were wounded people there, and they they needed his help.

So Perry, an Army medic who hoped to become a doctor, returned to do what he could. That act of self-sacrifice meant Perry never returned home.

Perry grew up in Canton and was a 1960 graduate of Canton High School. He joined the U.S. Army in 1966 and became a medic in a Special Forces unit. People who knew him said he planned to use that training to help him become a doctor. Perry was sent with his unit to Vietnam, where in addition to treating wounded soldiers he helped train Vietnamese nurses.

William Newman, a past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Avon, said Perry was flown in to help the garrison of a small fort called Ngok Tavak that had been surrounded by North Vietnamese soldiers.

Scott Thomas, another medic who was at the battle, who now lives in Westfield, Mass., said the North Vietnamese struck before daybreak. "They threw everything except the kitchen sink at us. You name it, they used it," Thomas said.

Thomas was badly injured, suffering shrapnal wounds to his back and legs. He was the only medic in the fort, and because he was wounded another medic was needed. Sgt. First Class Perry was flown in.

Perry treated Thomas and others who were then evacuated by helicoptor. Thomas said he didn't know Perry or speak to him and did not learn about him until many years later, when survivors of the batttle began organizing reunions and supporting efforts to find the remains those missing in action.

When it became evident that the garrison at Ngok Tavak needed to evacuate, an air strike dropped napalm to create a narrow path through which they could escape, according to an account of the battle.

Newman said that Perry and 70 others formed a column and withdrew from the fort. But Vietnamese irregular fighters allied with the Americans who were in the rear of the column were wounded by North Vietnamese mortar rounds and could not get out.

Seeing that, Perry turned back to help and was left behind. The commander of the fort later described Perry as the bravest man he ever met.

"The last anyone saw of him, he was running back to help the wounded. No one knows what happened to him," Thomas said. "I wish I had known him better. He sounds like he was a hell of a human being to know."

It is assumed that Perry did not survive though he is still officially listed as missing in action.

"He was quite a hero," Newman said. "He would not have been missing in action if he had not turned around to treat those wounded. He must have known that he was forfeiting his chance to escape."

Perry and his story came to the attention of the Avon VFW post several years ago when it was organizing programs about the Korean War. Newman said veterans from Canton mentioned Perry. Newman said he started researching the battle of Ngok Tavak, including meeting members of Perry's family in Washington, D.C., during a ceremony in 2007 to bury the remains of other soldiers who died in the battle.

The VFW post has used Perry's story in presentations to students, including one for Veterans Day last November at Canton High School.

"I want young people to know Perry's story," Newman said. "I found that few people knew about him and I want to get the word out about him and the kind of person he was."

By KEN BYRON, kbyron@courant.com
The Hartford Courant
6:05 a.m. EDT, May 6, 2014
 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Thomas McFaul Perry (1913 - 1987)
 
Inscription:

In Memory
Son
Thomas Hepburn Perry
Born June 20, 1942
S Sgt - Green Berets
Missing in Action - Vietnam
May 10, 1968
 
Burial:
Yamhill-Carlton Cemetery
Yamhill
Yamhill County
Oregon, USA
Plot: Cenotaph only. MIA-Vietnam
 
Created by: Kelly in CT
Record added: Jun 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 71676976
Spec Thomas Hepburn Perry
Added by: Kelly in CT
 
Spec Thomas Hepburn Perry
Added by: Kelly in CT
 
Spec Thomas Hepburn Perry
Added by: Kelly in CT
 
 
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- Evette Dingle-Smith
 Added: Aug. 14, 2014

- Donna B.
 Added: Jun. 29, 2014

- snm
 Added: Jun. 26, 2014
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