SYNOPSIS: On October 21, 1968, PFC Dickie Finley was the team leader of a
5-man Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team operating in the vicinity
of Ban Me Thuot in Darlac Province, South Vietnam. The unit was based at
Kontum in South Vietnam. During the evening, PFC Finley reported enemy
contact and after expending their ammunition, the team withdrew to a pickup
zone to await a helicopter.
The enemy had previously given a false report on their position and marked
their location with red smoke. Finley radioed again for a pickup. The
extraction helicopter hovered over a shallow pond and began loading the team
members. Finley threw his rifle onboard and was helping three team members
board the aircraft when it took off prematurely, leaving PFC Finley behind
SP4 Ghahate was clinging to the skids until he fell off.
In the darkness, it was not immediately known that all the team members were
not aboard. One team member looked out and saw a man hanging on the
helicopter landing skid. He signaled the pilot, but when he looked again,
the man was gone. The pilot circled the area in search of the 2 missing men.
the search was terminated after 30 minutes because of darkness.
The following day a 3 day search was initiated by ground forces and
helicopter units. The body of Ghahate was recovered. He had been wounded and
it was believed that it was he who fell from the helicopter. No sign was
found of Finley.
The family was told by friends of Finley's that during the searches his
Lieutenant went back and found a Bible and flashlight in the fork of a tree,
indicating that some sort of marker had been placed for search teams. The
Army reports no evidence of this in their files. Another account, given by
Finley's wife states that Finley's strobe light was found wedged in the
branch of a tree.
Dickie Finley, according to friends, was a scrapper. He wouldn't give up
easily on anything. It's their feeling that if Dickie was not killed, he is
still fighting for his freedom.
Dickie W. Finley was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant during the
period he was maintained Missing in Action.