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Student at Westlake High School|
Creating virtual memorials for fallen veterans of the Vietnam War.
Our student projects will be sent to Washington DC in a memorial service and will be able to be found at the site:
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I am so thrilled that somebody decided to make a school project out of this very difficult task of finding pictures to match the names on The Wall. I lived most of my adult life in McAllen, TX and worked as a high school counselor at McAllen High School, where MSGT Samuel Almendariz went to school. I realize that any information I have is too late for Melissa's project, but it may be helpful to others. I have desperately searched for a picture of him without any success. Recently, I purchased every book I could find on the MACVSOG program, the highly secret Black Ops unit comprised of Special Forces from all branches of the military, in the hope of discovering a photo of him in one of the many pictures in the books. Since these exceptionally brave men operated along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia, they wore nothing to identify them as Americans, no American uniforms or weapons, no dog tags, and no papers. Therefore, in all of the pictures in the books, there are no name tags on uniforms, and the only soldiers identified are the ones the authors personally knew. In my extensive research of MSGT Almendariz, I came across a note from his niece, Connie, in the Remembrances on The Virtual Wall. She says that she remembers him, his wife, Betty, and their six children, Sammy, Richard, Becky, Danny,Carolyn, and Gary. There is also a remembrance from a "Sam Luna" who says he is his son. I am speculating that his widow remarried and her husband adopted the children, but I have found nothing other than Sam Luna's remembrance to suggest that. As far as his status, he was definitely killed in action in Laos. When his Spike team came under attack, one Nung (Chinese Vietnamese highlanders) was killed, and highly outnumbered, the rest ran into the heavy brush to evade the enemy. The remaining Nungs fled the area while the three Americans blended in with their surroundings. The NVA located them and shot Almendariz twice, both critical and probably fatal wounds. The other American, SGT. Sullivan was shot in the leg and was bleeding profusely. The only one not wounded, Harry Brown, attempted to stop the bleeding in Sullivan's leg, knowing there was nothing he could do for Almendariz. By this time, more NVA soldiers were firing on the scene and Almendariz and Sullivan were shot and killed instantly. Brown was shot eight times in his left arm and shoulder, but again using the heavy brush for cover, crawled out far enough to get a radio signal for a pick up. He required extensive medical care, so it was a couple of days before his report was written. A team went back to the area on July 16 to retrieve the bodies, but there was nothing there. McAllen was a small town in the '60s, yet had four MIA. Two have been accounted for, and two have not. Aside from MSGT Almendariz, COLONEL William E. Campbell of McAllen remains MIA, having been shot down over Laos. He left behind a wife and five children. On another note, in my research on the MACVSOG program and my studies of US involvement in Laos and Cambodia, I discovered that not one single SOG POW was ever released from Laos or Cambodia, and the remains of those killed were never returned. These men saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers with the work they did disrupting supply chains on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and with the intelligence they gathered by capturing prisoners. They were also responsible for going behind enemy lines and securing the release of American POWs. I am determined to find a picture of MSGT Samuel Almendariz because I want future generations to know what this hero looked like. I want everyone to appreciate the sacrifice made by him and his family. Somebody knows where those bodies were taken and time is of the essence before those people are gone, too.
Hi Melissa, I wish I could provide more info but I don't have anything further on Samuel Almendariz. I see in the Vietnam Casualty list that he was married but I don't know the name of his spouse. Vagabond
Added by Vagabond on Apr 11, 2012 8:28 PM