Name: Harold William Kroske, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army Special Forces
Unit: C & C South, MACV-SOG, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 20 July 1947
Home City of Record: Trenton NJ
Date of Loss: 11 February 1969
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 115923N 1063331E (XU697258)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident:
1Lt. Harold Kroske was a reconnaissance patrol leader assigned to Command and Control South, MACV-SOG. MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group) was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channelled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
On February 11, 1969, Kroske's patrol was engaged by an enemy force 12 miles inside Cambodia west of Bu Dop and he killed several hostile troops along a trail. Kroske then motioned the point man, Diep Chan Sang, to come with him. There was a sudden burst of gunfire, Kroske dropped his weapon, grabbed his stomach and fell to the ground. SP4 Bryan O. Stockdale tried to approach him, received no response when he called out his name from twenty feet away, whereupon the patrol was forced to withdraw becaseu of heavy automatic weapons fire.
Kroske was believed to be dead, and it was not possible to recover his body. Because of the lack of certainty that Kroske died, he is listed among the missing. He is among nearly 2500 Americans still missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.
When the war ended, refugees from the communist-overrun countries of Southeast Asia began to flood the world, bringing with them stories of crash sites they had seen, dog tags they had found, and of live GI's still in captivity in their homelands. Since 1975, nearly 10,000 such stories have been received. Many authorities believe that hundreds of Americans are still held in the countries in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Government operates on the "assumption" that one or more men are being held, but that it cannot "prove" that this is the case, allowing action to be taken. Meanwhile, low-level talks between the U.S. and Vietnam proceed, yielding a few sets of remains when it seems politically expedient to return them, but as yet, no living American has returned.