Saber Article Index
13010 N. Lakeforest Dr.
I received a telephone call
from Richard Magner on Feb
4, 2023, [he notes] 1:50 pm.
I called him back-quickly for
me-and he told me what he was
doing. The below email explains that.
“Hi Mike, I am sticking with some of the format I started on prior to our phone
“For the past few years since my retirement from fifty years of flying helicopters (the last 40 as an air-medical pilot) and a subsequent month-long return to Vietnam, I have assisted the Vietnamese locate mass graves from the war years. This effort has grown to well over a hundred battle sites now.
“The official enemy body count at David [FSB David, Cambodia] was twenty-eight. I have heard that either a backhoe or a D3 dozer was used to dig the grave.
Here are the David coordinates: YU3465-6528 MGRS Indian 1960 datum.
And the Lat/Long for Google Maps or Google Earth: 12.344630,107.154008
“My efforts in these endeavors encompass online battle research, finding and
corresponding with Veterans of many battles, hours on Google Earth overlaying drawings, grid maps, aerial photos, etc. Over the past couple of years, I’ve
developed a library of satellite images downloaded from the USGS site which
have proven helpful.
“In November, Major Tu, Team K52 Commander based at Dac Lac conducted a preliminary survey of the David site and found vestiges of the southern-sector berm. That is the extent of the work at David so far, as they are awaiting more information to surface.
“I imagine some of these images were
originally yours [actually, possibly one
of the attachments]. Though you may
not have any knowledge of the grave,
I will much appreciate your comments
“Time has long passed for these Soldiers to be recovered, properly buried,
spirits laid to rest, and solace given to
their families and loved ones. Thank
you for your consideration.
“I much enjoyed our conversation. All the best, Richard W Magner, CW2
U.S. Army, Retired (Med) Tiger 38, D/229 (Smiling Tigers), 1 Cav 68/69 (860)
In response to what he wrote, I indeed did not know anything about any grave. My MEDEVAC crew went out to FSB David at the outset of the Cambodian Incursion when they first built it. That is when I took photos with my Kodak Instamatic camera, from the air, and on the ground around where we parked. We went out there every morning for a period of time, from wherever we stayed at night, which could have been anywhere in the 1st Cav AO. I don’t recall how often we flew there daily to base ourselves, and when we stopped doing that.
We flew every day throughout the incursion which was all of May and June
1970. We parked it, probably there, until we got a call. So, we used David a
lot. And we flew a lot of pickups. We were constantly picking up from calls
for wounded. After all, it was the Cambodian Incursion. All helicopters in
Ambulance Platoon, call
sign MEDEVAC, were
assigned and functioning 24-7, covering the
whole Cambodian A.O.
to the northern border
of III Corps, which was
I think at FSB David in
The fact that I took
photos of the gullies
on the other side of the
berm at the south end of
David where we parked
displays that the NVA
were too busy elsewhere
to initially worry about
FSB David. They were probably on the run, or pinned down defending where
they were. The whole U.S. Army and ARVN in III Corps were massed, swarming over them.
It did not remain that way. With time they did get around to attacking FSB
David as I wrote about after commo with
D 1-5 Cav Platoon Leader Joel Chase,
and others, starting back in the NovDec
2019 Saber, and into 2020. I never
knew about FSB David getting hit, until Joel, and those around him, described it. That attack was 14 Jun 70, so by then my crew was not going there daily, apparently. Anything was possible about our routines, but I did not know about any attack, and where dead NVA were
buried. The MEDEVAC crew that went
out there for the wounded knew about
the attack. But any mass grave after the
battle would be internal knowledge to the
The 12th Cav column in the Saber has
been mentioning similar cooperation with
the Vietnamese locating
mass graves around where
LZ Bird was in 1966. As
Richard mentions above,
there are many other sites
being explored. Richard Menger said something to
me about it taking a long
time the way the Vietnamese were going about it.
I said something to him
about modern technology
should be able to help,
and that the Asians are
adept with technology.
That may be a stereotype
assumption on my part. I
don’t really know what is
happening there that he
I mentioned to Richard about watching PBS
programs where archeologists find ways, from
the air, to locate lost civilizations, or remnants of. He said he had seen the same
programs, and described what methods he knew of.
A more recent program since I spoke to him showed Amazonian natives using drones and LIDAR to cut through the dense Amazon rain forest and find buried ancient civilizations of their ancestors. Technology like that has to be better than just blindly sifting through the dirt.
From the photos that he sent, it doesn’t look like there is much
vegetation in the way around where FSB David was, just grass or whatever the
ground cover is. Some technology from the air has to help, or as Richard
described, lawn mower types of radiation. I’m sure he is discussing that
with them if they need ideas.
FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Mike Bodnar 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE