| MICHAEL LOUIS LAPORTE
Rank/Branch: E5/US Navy
Unit: 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Force Recon Battalion, 1st
Date of Birth: 21 August 1944 (Seattle WA)
Home City of Record: Los Angeles CA
Date of Loss: 05 September 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source:Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS:LOST IN HELICOPTER DROP
SYNOPSIS:Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Petty Officer Michael L. LaPorte was assigned to 1st Force Recon Company, 1st Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Da Nang, South Vietnam. (NOTE: Some lists have LaPorte incorrectly listed as an E2.) On September 3, 1967, LaPorte was assigned as the team corpsman of a nine-man reconnaissance patrol that was inserted by parachute into Happy Valley, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.
LaPorte was the number five man in the jump sequence. All nine parachutes opened, but a westerly wind of about 30 knots caused the team to drift. LaPorte was seen by team members to be drifting out and beyond the others. This was the last time he was seen. He did not join the patrol as planned.
The patrol conducted an immediate search with negative results. This was LaPorte’s 13th jump and he was very experienced in such operations, having been in-country for about 2 years, with a request for another extension. The jump master believed that he was not injured in the jump and that he could evade capture. (NOTE: Some sources say that Michael LaPorte was a Navy SEAL, although this information is not given in U.S. Navy accounts of his loss incident.) Later in the day, the patrol was hit by an enemy force of 5-6 Viet Cong. All other patrol members were evacuated. (NOTE: Defense Department lists indicate that LaPorte was lost on September 5th. No reason for the descrepancy can be determined, unless the team was inserted on the 3rd and extracted on the 5th at which time LaPorte was declared missing.) LaPorte was listed Missing in Action.
Nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans still missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government since the war ended. Many officials, having reviewed this largely classified information, believe that hundreds of Americans are still alive, wishing and hoping that their country will someday bring them home.
Through the years since LaPorte disappeared, reports have filtered in that he was captured by the Viet Cong. In 1979, U.S. Marine PFC Robert Garwood was released from Vietnam, and related that he had known of LaPorte. According to
Garwood, the Viet Cong had brought LaPorte to the camp in Happy Valley, where Garwood had been held for some time as prisoner. The camp guards called LaPorte “Bill.” The last he heard, “Bill” was working as a laborer on a communal farm in North Vietnam in the Quang Thien area — in 1975 — two years after the U.S. Government declared that there was no reason to believe any POWs were still alive.
Garwood was not debriefed by the U.S. Government for some 8 years after he was released, so his knowledge of “Bill” was quite dated by the time it was reluctantly received. Perhaps LaPorte is still alive, wondering if anyone remembers him — or cares.
Michael L. LaPorte was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer during the period he was maintained missing. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep pushing this issue inside the Beltway…The need to get specific answers is more important now than ever before. If still alive, some MIAs are now in their 50s, 60s & 70s…They don’t have much time left. We have to demand the answers from the bureaucrats and keep standing on their necks (figuratively speaking) until they get the message that THEY work for US and that we are serious about getting these long overdue responses. Diplomatic considerations aside… We can no longer allow questionable protocols established by pseudo-aristocratic armchair strategists, to determine or influence the fate of the men who were in the trenches while the diplomats were sharing sherry and canapes and talking about “Their Plans” for the future of SE Asia. If you’d like to see what some others are doing in addition to writing their congressmen, senators and the Whitehouse, check out some of these sites: http://hawk.mji.com/~mred/mialist.htm
I sit here as I am doing the html for this page and besides crying, I think about what I was doing and where I was on the day that you became a MIA and I realize that: 1- I had been married for almost three months to the an officer on the Navy Seal Team; 2- my husband was on yet another tour in Viet Nam; and I had started my junior year of college. My husband did come back alive from Nam that tour, but he was killed on his 7th tour. I think what a senseless act that our government, which is supposed to be the most powerful on the planet, can not find you and the others. I know how your family must feel each day and night……wondering……needing to know. I still ask myself and God, why? I shall pray for you and your family as I have been praying for all the POW/MIAs and their families each and every day for the last three decades. I hope someday I will be able to look in your eyes and welcome you home.
If YOU want to then DO IT!!!!!
I send you love.
Rev.Cassandra Anaya, Ph.D. (email)