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[Spacer] [Army - .8K] Gerald Francis Kinsman
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[POW - .3K]  Missing In Action    [POW - .3K] 

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  • Name: Gerald Francis Kinsman
  • Rank/Branch: O2/US Army Special Forces
  • Unit: Company A, Detachment B-43, 5th Special Forces Group
  • Date of Birth: 12 June 1945 (Boston MA)
  • Home City of Record: Foxboro MA
  • Date of Loss: 15 January 1971
  • Country of Loss: South Vietnam
  • Loss Coordinates: 103415N 1045652E (VS5943684)
  • Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
  • Category: 2
  • Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
  • Other Personnel in Incident: James A. Harwood (missing)
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    [Up - .1K] [Spacer] SYNOPSIS [Spacer] [Down  - .1K]

    SYNOPSIS: Sgt. James Harwood and 1Lt. Gerald Kinsman were part of the 5th Special
    Forces Group Detachment B-43 based at the Special Forces camp at Chi Lang, South
    Vietnam.  The two were assisting in the training of the Reconnaissance Platoon, 2nd
    Company, 1st (later the 6th) Cambodian Mobile Operations Battalion as part of Capt.
    Harry Purdy's instruction team.

    Chi Lang was situated in a dangerous, contested border zone.  Any training venture away  from camp was subject to becoming a frightening battlefield between Cambodian trainees  and hardened Viet Cong regulars, with predictable results, although the Special Forces
    had considerably more faith in the abilities of the Khmer troops than they had had in the
    Vietnamese CIDG unit they had formerly trained.  The situation was worsened by the
    serious friction between Detachment B-43 and the former CIDG Vietnamese troops at
    the camp.  The Special Forces made no secret of the fact that they felt the Khmer troops
    were superior to the ARVN border rangers, whom they considered hoods and thieves.
    The Vietnamese officer, Maj. Hoa countered by refusing to punish any Vietnamese
    caught stealing from the Americans.

    In January 1971, Capt. Purdy's team and the Khmer battalion-in-training conducted a
    field exercise at Nui Ta Bec, five miles northwest of Chi Lang.  1Lt. Gerald F. Kinsman,
    the tactics committee instructor, accompanied the battalion's 3rd Company cadre, Lt.
    James J. McCarty and Sgt. James A. Harwood.  On 15 January, the three Special Forces
    troops were escorting the company's 24-man reconnaissance platoon, which was awaiting
    the arrival of the 8th Khmer Infantry Battalion, coming to replace them in the field.

    The platoon was moving downhill through thick bamboo on the slope of Hill 282 (Nui
    Ta Bec) northwest of Chi Lang and 2 miles from the Cambodian border, after searching
    several large rock outcroppings of Nui Ta Bec.  Sgt. Harwood was in the lead, 1Lt.
    Kinsman was in the middle, and McCarty to the rear of the platoon.  At this time, the
    platoon was moving in column formation.  Suddenly the pointman came under automatic
    weapons fire, engaging the platoon in a firefight.

    Harwood radioed 1st Lt. James J. McCarty that he was crawling up toward the point,
    and was receiving direct fire from the front.  Communications were then lost with
    Harwood, and McCarty's shouts to him met with no response.  McCarty then approached
    Kinsman's position at the front, and saw Lt. Kinsman standing in an open area saying
    he had been hit in the stomach.  When he reached Kinsman, McCarty found him lying
    on his back in a bamboo thicket. He had been shot in the stomach, just to the side of the
    navel with an exit wound in the back, and was lying in a large pool of blood.  McCarty
    tried to administer aid, but his weapon was shot away, and he was wounded himself.  He
    tried to drag the unconscious 1Lt. Kinsman from the area, but enemy troops were
    approaching and he had to hide.  McCarty did not see Harwood.

    McCarty's radioman was wounded in the leg as he frantically radioed Sgt. Stamper at the
    base of the hill.  Maj. Leary, the Detachment B-43 commander, was overhead in an O-1
    aircraft and relayed the request for immediate assistance to Maj. Hoa at Chi Lang.  Hoa claimed all of his units were "busy" and no response was possible.  Leary summoned a
    battalion from the 9th ARVN Division next, but by the time they arrived, the fighting was
    over.  In addition to the Cambodian casualties, both Lt. Kinsman and Sgt. Harwood were

    McCarty was later evacuated.  Harwood was classified Missing In Action, and Kinsman,
    because of his severe wounds was classified as Killed/Body Not Recovered.  Every detail
    of their loss is classified, and unavailable to the public after nearly 20 years.

    In August 1974, a Vietnamese source reported the following information which he
    received second hand from another Vietnamese, "The enemy (Viet Cong) ambushed a
    Government of Vietnam team, killed one American and captured one American, one
    officer and one NCO in that vicinity.  The live American was ordered to pull the body
    into the forest.  In the forest, the American was ordered to dig a hole and bury his friend.
    As soon as he finished his work, a VC cadre stood beside him and fired at his head with a
    K .54 pistol.   The two bodies were rushed into the hole, and it was filled with earth."  The
    source also assumed that the grave site might have been in a valley.

    The fates of Harwood and Kinsman are unknown.  They are 2 of nearly 2500 Americans
    who are still missing from Southeast Asia.  As reports flow in that hundreds of Americans
    are still alive in Vietnam and Laos, one wonders if Harwood or Kinsman are among them.
    If the 1974 report is true, why have their bodies not been returned?  If it is not, and they
    are alive, what must they be thinking of us?

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