Laws, Delmer Lee, SFC

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Last Rank
Sergeant First Class
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
11C40-Indirect Fire Infantryman
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1966-1967, 11C40, MACV Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG)
Service Years
1953 - 1967

Special Forces
Sergeant First Class

Four Service Stripes

Two Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SFC Anthony Eugene Santa Maria, IV to remember Laws, Delmer Lee, SFC.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Mineral Point
Last Address
Mineral Point

Casualty Date
Jul 29, 1966
Hostile, Died while Missing
Unknown, Not Reported
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial - Honolulu, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
09E 087/Court B

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  1982, Vietnam Veterans Memorial6 - Assoc. Page
  2010, The National Gold Star Family Registry

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award
Parachutist (Basic)

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
MACV Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG)5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  1966-1967, 11C40, MACV Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG)
  1966-1967, 11C40, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

29 Jul 66; Delmar Lee Laws, SFC E-7, Mineral Point, Missouri and Don Rue Sain SP/4, USASF, FOB 1, Phu Bai, MACSOG Op 35 and two Army of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers, name and ranks unknown were on a recon mission. SFC Laws listed as MIA and SP4 Sain and the two Vietnamese KIA-RR. (A team of 3 Americans and 7 ARVN, conducting a recon in the area Southwest of Khe Shan in Laos. The team had stopped at a small stream as they were climbing down the back slope of Co Roc Mountain, where SFC Law was last seen crouched, signaling to the team leader, reporting he had heard something to his rear. Immediately the team came under fire from the rear and flank positions by automatic weapons by an estimated company size NVA unit. Two Vietnamese and SP/4 Sain were immediately KIA. As the team rallied, SFC Laws was unaccounted for. The team then moved to evade the enemy. SFC Laws was not seen hit nor was he seen again. Upon a recovery mission, the remains of the two Vietnamese and SP/4 Sain along with a leg which was later identified as belong to SFC Laws were recovered (Sain's body had been crudely booby-trapped with a hand grenade). The recovery team reports, anyone caught in the killing zone died instantly. Law is presumed to have died due to the massive bleeding produced from the severed femoral artery would have produced death within minutes without the immediate services of a medically trained surgeon. SGM Harry "Crash" D. Whalen was able to evade the enemy and actually walk out of Laos. (Note: Identification was made through the remaining clothing on the leg, Jungle boots, and size of the boots). [FILED BY: SGM "BILLY WAUGH": Concerning RT members SAIN and LAWS, on 29 Jul 66, while on Recon in the Co Roc Mountain area, 10 KM WSW of Khe Sanh Base, approximately 700 meters West of the Tchepone River, the team (Team Name not recalled), with  SGM Crash WHALEN as the 1 - 0, where ambushed during the hours of daylight. SAIN and LAWS were dropped in their tracks, with C. WHALEN, attempting to rescue what was left of the team. C. WHALEN crossed the Tchepone River, and E & E'd to the Khe Sahn Base. B. Waugh took in a Bright Light Team, consisting of Maj. KILMER, Commo man, Horton DANIELS, Launch Site CO, Maj. J. VANSICKLE, SFC Melvin Hill, and a couple of others, landing at an area where SAIN was staked to the ground. Booby traps were attached to SAIN who was dead. 

On 29 July 1966, SFC Delmer L. Laws was one of three American Special Forces personnel and seven ARVN who comprised a reconnaissance patrol operating in the rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 13 miles southwest of Khe Sanh and 62 miles west-northwest of Hue, South Vietnam; 1 mile west of the Lao/South Vietnamese border and 21 miles southeast of Muang Xepon, Savannakhet Province, Laos.

As the patrol stopped by a small stream, they were ambushed by a communist force of unknown size. Team members disbursed along the trail into defensive positions. SFC Laws was last seen by patrol survivors in a crouched position communicating with the team leader via hand signals indicating he heard something in the rear of the patrol. The team then came under automatic weapons fire from their rear and flank positions. During the ensuing firefight, 1 American and 2 ARVN were caught in the enemy's crossfire and instantly killed. The team leader rallied the remaining team members and they moved north to evade capture. Before departing the area, the team leader was unable to locate SFC Laws.

On 31 July, and again on 4 August 1966, a search and rescue (SAR) team was inserted into the ambush site. They reported that based on material evidence found at the site, everyone caught in the killing zone was killed instantly and those remains were recovered. They thoroughly searched the site of contact and surrounding area, but found no trace of Delmer Laws. In spite of the fact that the last time the survivors saw SFC Laws he was uninjured; the remains of other team members who were killed outright including another American and were left where they fell; and in spite of the fact that the communists were not known to carry off the bodies of dead Americans, Delmer Laws was listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. Later in the war most of these teams came under the command of Military Assistance Command Vietnam - Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG), and was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.

Delmer Laws is among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many are known to have been alive on the ground after their loss incidents. Although the Pathet Lao publicly stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American held in Laos has ever been released.

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