Samuel Almendariz was a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army when he was Killed in Action in Laos on 12 July 1967. Almendariz was born on 10 May 1934, and his home city of record is McAllen, Texas. Almendariz's remains have not been returned.
Leading up to the Incident
During their war with the French, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong (then called Viet Minh) discovered that the ideal way to keep supplies and troops moving between the two parts of the country was to move through the neutral countries of Laos and Cambodia. During U.S. involvement in Indochina, the United States was forbidden to conduct war there because of the 1962 Geneva accords which protected the two countries' neutrality.
It became apparent, however, that clandestine operations had to be conducted in Laos and Cambodia to prevent the enemy from having a free hand in troop and equipment mobility. At first these operations were very secret, to the extent that records were "altered" to show operations in South Vietnam, but later in the war were conducted with relative openness.
SFC Almendariz and SFC Sullivan were on such a mission in Laos on 12 July 1967. Their reconnaissance team, consisting of three Americans and eight indigenous personnel, was operating just inside Laos in the extreme southeast portion of Savannakhet Province when the team came under attack. From 1100 hours until 1600 hours that day, the team was under heavy attack and attempting to evade.
Only one of the Americans was rescued, and he reported that both Almendariz and Sullivan had been mortally wounded. On 16 July, a search force went back to the area of contact, but were unable to locate the bodies of either man. Almendariz and Sullivan were listed as killed, body not recovered.
Almendariz and Sullivan are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Although the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of prisoners, not one prisoner held in Laos was ever released.
Biographical and incident of loss information was obtained from either POW/NET and/or Task Force Omega, Inc (unless otherwise noted). Additional information may be found via remembrances at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund or The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial.