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Name: Kenneth Leo Plumadore 
Rank/Branch: Lance Corporal/US Marine Corps
Unit: 2nd Battalion,
4th Marines,
3rd Marine Division


Date of Birth: 28 January 1949 (Syracuse, NY)
Home of Record: Syracuse, NY
Date of Loss: 21 September 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 163813N 1064116E (XD800400)
Status in 1973: Killed in Action/Body Not
Recovered                            

Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: W. Aaron Berry and Mark W. Judge (not on
official list)

REMARKS: SYNOPSIS:    On 21 September 1967, LCpl. Kenneth L. Plumadore, Cpl.
W. Aaron Berry and PFC Mark W. Judge were riflemen whose unit was
participating in Operation Kingfisher, the purpose of which was to seek out
and destroy enemy troops operating around Con Thien Firebase, Quang Tri
Province, South Vietnam.
As the Marines were sweeping through an area near a
Buddhist pagoda in jungle covered mountains approximately 4 miles northeast
of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 4 miles due north of the Lang Vei Special
Forces Camp and 6 miles west of Khe Sanh, a sizable North Vietnamese Army
(NVA) force ambushed the Marines with point-blank machine gun fire, artillery
and/or mortar fire. In the initial minutes of combat, 31 Marines were cut
down and either killed or wounded. The assault was so savage that the
withdrawing Americans were forced to leave 15 fellow Marines on the
battlefield. According to the official report, LCpl. Plumadore "received
gunshot rounds thru and thru the chest." Airstrikes were called in to cover
the surviving Marines' withdrawal, and later bombed again to destroy enemy
personnel remaining in the area.
On 10 October 1967, 19 days later, a search
and recovery (SAR) detachment along with a security detail returned to the
cratered battlefield. They recovered 14 badly decomposing fragmentary remains
of those men left behind and only the helmet worn by the 15th Marine. Later
Mortuary Affairs personnel in DaNang positively identified 12 of the 14 sets
of recovered remains using dental records. The remaining 2 sets of remains
were subsequently also identified by using "the best anthropological and
forensic evidence available at the time." Those Marines were Cpl. W. Aaron
Berry and PFC Mark W. Judge. LCpl. Kenneth Plumadore, the only man not
recovered and identified, was declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
Also on 10 October 1967, the SAR detachment recovered a 15th set of remains
of an aviator clothed in a full flight suit that they initially identified as
a Marine pilot who was in fact shot down near Vinh, North Vietnam. Because of
the location of loss of all concerned, that identification was later
rescinded.
Once the other remains had been identified and returned to their
families, the Plumadore family was told that LCpl. Plumadore's body probably
had been totally destroyed before the SAR team could get into the battle
site. He was listed KIA/BNR in spite of the fact that a declassified US
military intelligence report received shortly after the incident stated: "DIA
reporting from a highly reliable source indicated a seriously wounded
American was captured on 21 September 1967 and his North Vietnamese captors
were moving him to Kinh Mon hamlet that evening. Reportedly, that individual
died during an escape attempt on 27 September 1967 in a field hospital."

During the 18th JTFFA (Joint Task Force for Full Accounting) field
investigation of the Con Thien battle site, US personnel interviewed
Vietnamese residents of the area who were there in 1967. One of those
Vietnamese, Mr. Thuong, told them that "he visited the wounded American
detained in a tunnel complex in Vinh Thuy Village. He heard the American was
captured near Con Thien in October 1967, escaped, was recaptured and
subsequently died." Mr. Thuong's information was supported by a hearsay
report by Lt. Col. Bien who had heard about that same incident and the
captured American during the war. Neither Vietnamese could provide
information on how, when and under what circumstances that American died.
The
third Vietnamese, Mr. Vinh, provided firsthand information of his
observations of "a wounded American being treated at a medical facility -
Hospital #48 - around Vinh Thuy Village in September 1967." He heard the
American died and was buried in the hospital cemetery. He added that Mr. Son
supervised the burial. In interviewing Mr. Son, the JTFFA learned that he did
"supervise the American POW's burial at Military Hospital #48" and "in around
1984 guided government officials to the site location where they exhumed the
remains."
In April 1986, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam returned to the US
remains of an individual allegedly captured in Con Thien who died on 27
September 1967 in Vinh Linh. The remains were designated "CILHI 0048-86."
On
8 May 1989, the US Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CIL-HI)
"compared the dental remains of CILHI 0048-86 to the available records of all
individuals involved in the incident 0n 21 September 1967 during Operation
Kingfisher at Con Thien, South Vietnam. That examination revealed that the
remains were not those of LCpl. Plumadore and were possibly those of either
Cpl. Berry or PFC Judge" - the two Marines whose remains were not positively
identified by dental records in 1967. That report went on to state the
"dental records of Cpl. W. Aaron Berry were not in his wartime file. PFC Mark
W. Judge's records are not inconsistent with the remains of CILHI 0048-86,
but are not sufficient for a positive identification."
In 1992, Kenneth
Plumadore's family received a declassified sighting report of "a very tall,
thin, dark haired American who was captured on 21 September 1967" and was
seen being lead away from the battlefield by NVA soldiers. The report added
that "he suffered a bad leg wound." The description of the captured Marine
fit only LCpl. Plumadore who stood 6 foot 3 inches tall and was slight of
build for a man of that height.
Also since 1992, declassified documents
indicate there were at least 42 Marines and 5 Navy Corpsmen killed/missing in
the Con Thien action on 21 September 1967. Additionally, documents surfaced
showing that Operation Buffalo was conducted in this same area in July 1967
with as many as 53 killed/missing and at least one of those remaining
unaccounted for.

,p>In 1994, US government concluded publicly the remains returned by the
Vietnamese in 1986 were those of Mark Judge. They further conveniently
concluded that somehow Aaron Berry's and Kenneth Plumadore's remains were
accidentally buried in the wrong caskets in such a way that Cpl. Berry's
remains were buried under a headstone bearing PFC Judge's name, and LCpl.
Plumadore's remains were buried under one bearing Cpl. Berry's name. Under
the circumstances of loss, original identification/misidentification of
remains, and only the US government's determination that CILHI 0048-86 are
the mortal remains of her son's, Mary Jellison, Mark Judge's mother,
requested independent mt-DNA analysis done to confirm or disprove CILHI's
findings before she accepts CILHI 0048-86 as being her son.
In April 1996,
the remains buried under Mark Judge's headstone were exhumed. In its headlong
rush to account for each of these three Marines, CILHI experts now identify
Aaron Berry as the man buried under Mark Judge's headstone based on one tooth!
In June 1996, the remains originally buried as William Berry were exhumed.
Those skeletal remains are of a person who stood only 5 foot 8 inches tall
with a very heavy, muscular bone structure; which arrived at the DaNang
Mortuary on 1 November 1967 - long after the rest of the recovered remains
from the Con Thien battle site. There was only part a jaw in the casket
containing two teeth, with one being a wisdom tooth. Interestingly, Kenneth
Plumadore had all his wisdom teeth extracted before going to Vietnam.
Further, in spite of the fact that those remains were virtually in tact and
being held together by "tissue and cartilage," CILHI concluded the remains in
that casket were co-mingled with the portion of the jaw belonging to Kenneth
Plumadore and the rest of the remains belonging to someone else. Those
unidentified individual remains represent the 16tth body recovered from
Operation Kingfisher.
In 1994 and again in 1997, CIL-HI performed mt-DNA
tests on remains CILHI 0048-86 using blood samples from Mrs. Jellison and her
daughter. According to CIL-HI documents, the first set of tests confirmed the
identification of those remains as Mark Judge based on "the unique DNA
sequences of the mother and son." However, the tests conducted 3 years later
are not so conclusive. According to the second set of test result findings,
"the DNA sample CILHI 0048-86 matched 64 other DNA samples in CIL-HI's
database.

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