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Donald J. Trampski MIA Sept. 16, 1969

Page Updated December 2, 2004 at 2:00 a.m.

Rank/Branch: E2/US Army
Serial # 309548598
Unit: Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
DOB: 08/16/48
Age at Time of Loss: 21
Home of Record: Chesterton, IN
Date of Loss: 09/16/69
Country: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 134039N 1080718E (AR888138)
Status: Missing in Action
Official Government Status: "Died while missing"
Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Panel 18W Row: 098 PFC

SYNOPSIS: PFC Donald J. Trampski was serving as a rifleman with his unit on an operation in central Pleiku Province, South Vietnam. In order to continue its mission, his unit was required to cross a flimsy Montagnard bridge. At the time there was a severe Monsoon rainstorm in progress that drenched thoroughly drenched everyone and everything. Further, the bridge was slippery and the river was swollen with a fast moving current.

While attempting to cross the bridge, PFC Trampski lost his footing and fell into the river. According to surviving platoon members, PFC Trampski was last seen in the water, swimming about 30 yards from the bridge. A search was immediately made by team members along both riverbanks to locate and assist him, but they found no sign of him.

At dawn the following day a full search and rescue (SAR) operation using both ground and air assets was initiated along the banks from the bridge to 300 meters downstream. The search continued for 3 weeks, but no trace of PFC Trampski or any of his gear was found. At the time formal SAR efforts were terminated, Donald Trampski was immediately listed Missing in Action.

The area in which PFC Trampski's unit was operating in at the time of his loss was dense double and triple canopy jungle with mountains directly to the east, a primary road approximately 1 mile to the south and another major road 2 miles to the northeast. Further, the loss location was roughly 8 miles north of the town of Phu Nhan, 21 miles south-southeast of Pleiku City and 37 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border.

Because of the circumstances of loss, there is no way of knowing for certain if Donald Trampski drowned in that fast moving river, or if he safely reached shore only to be captured by communist troops who were known to be operating in the area.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

Below links to 2 maps of the area where Donald was last seen by his Platoon members.

Map 1

Map 2

I adopted Donald May 27, 2001. I have spent many hours researching his disappearance on the internet. I have written letters to the senator to hear back the usual reply, " We have done what we can" etc etc etc. I personally do NOT believe this!! I am currently thinking about writing a letter to President Bush about this. There are many men that were "Left Behind" and it is just not fair to their families. With Donald it was stated that he was last seen swimming, well then maybe he got out of the water and there was enemy on shore? How would we REALLY know? We wouldn't!! He could be over there to this day pushing a plow or doing whatever other dirty work they could give hin to do. Donald would be 54 years old today, still young enough to possibly be living. Just as many others could still be living today. I will continue my search for Donald until the day I die. I will always honor him and remember him for what he did.

I lost the copy of the first letters I sent out when I adopted Donald. But here is a copy of the letter I am sending to Senators, the Governor and the President.

I have an adopted POW/MIA from the Vietnam War. And I am very concerned about the efforts being made to find our POW/MIA's from there as well as from other wars.

The main concern I am writing to you with today is wanting to know what is being done to determine the fate of Donald Joseph Trampski who was last seen in South Vietnam (Central Pleiku Province) on the day of September 16, 1969. Mr. Trampski was walking across a Montagnard bridge. He lost his footing and fell into the river below. There was said to be a severe rain storm at the time and that the river was swollen with a fast current. Mr. Trampski was last seen swimming about 30 yards from the bridge. Mr. Trampski was never found and returned to the USA and his family. It is stated in documents that they were in an area far from any formal city and no enemy was present. But while looking through records online I found a document that says "Heavy fighting resulted in loss of access to sites". It lists the date of the information as 09/16/69. But lists a date of report of 03/21/75. This information was found at the website of The Federal Research Division in the POW/MIA database. My question is why is it said in one place that there was NO enemy there and then in another document that they had loss access to the sites due to heavy fighting? Can you explain this to me so that I may be able to understand this?

Could you please advise me of any action that is being taken by you or other officials to determine Mr. Trampski's fate?

And if no action is being taken could you also please explain to me why not? And explain to me how you personally will correct this and see that is does not happen again to any other US service member?

I sincerely thank you for your time.

Penny L. Weber

I have had the pleasure of hearing from several of Donald's family members since I first opened up this webpage. And it has touched my heart to know just how much pain and grief they still endure to this day! I cannot even imagine being in their place, nor do I wish that kind of pain on anyone.I have also had contact from a lady who stated that she was Donald's former fiance. It was also a joy to have heard from her. And I recently heard from someone who was right there with Donald when he slipped off of the bridge that day. He was right there! I cannot imagine being in his place or any of the other soldiers who were there with him on that awful day.The sorrow that they must have felt. To see your "brother" and not be able to do a thing to save him. But I know that they did indeed try. I also know that they searched for him for as long as they possibly could. And my heart goes out to them, because I know that there is no possible way that these men have ever forgotten what they seen and what most likely brought their morale so far down that day.I am sure that this is embedded in their minds and will be until the day they depart this world. Now what is the excuse though for the folks who should be trying to find out something NOW? There is NO acceptable excuse! From here on out I say we fight to bring home the POW/MIA's from all past wars and not let this happen again in the future!

In Novemer of 2002 my husband was called to duty to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He returned home 1 year later safe and sound. Thank God! He is currently serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in a second tour of duty, having been called to duty this time in August of 2004. I hope and pray that he will make it home safe to myself and our children again this time as he has done in the past. But until then, he is still close in my heart and mind......

On September 16, 2001 I visited the moving wall. What an awesome experience this was for me. And to make it even more special it marked to the day Donald being missing for 32 years.We seen "Rolling Thunder" there also. What a day it was!I was touched deeply by this experience also. Someday I would love to visit the Wall itself and do a rubbing. I did do a rubbing from the moving wall.But it unfortunately has been lost. Here below is a rubbing I got from The Virtual Wall here online. Along with pictures that were taken the day that I visited the Moving Wall with my 2 children Alyssa who had recently turned 6 and Michael who was 3. As you can see they are very Patriotic.

This Table - set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner.

The Tablecloth - is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to theirs Country's call to arms.

The Red Rose - signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States. It also reminds us of all who keep the Faith while awaiting their return.

The Yellow Ribbon - represents the yellow ribbons worn by the thousands who demand unyeilding determination and a proper accounting of our Comrades.

A Slice of Lemon - reminds us of their bitter fate.

The Sprinkled Salt - reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

The Glass is inverted - they cannot toast with us this night.

The Chair is empty - they are not here.

The Candle - is reminiscent of the light of HOPE which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful Nation.

The Bible - represents the strength gained through Faith to sustain those lost from our Country, founded as one Nation under God.

If Donald is ever to return to the USA I would like to personally meet him. If his remains are returned I would try my best to be there for any services held for him. I feel close to this person even though we have never met.

And here are some beautiful poems I have collected.

Missing in Action
I am an M I A
Still waiting here today.

In a war that no one wanted
I was lost and left behind.
With news of me discounted
Truth and me; too hard to find.

My mother cried
When she heard the news.
While protesters cried
I was paying my dues.

My father wept then put memories away
Waiting patiently for the day,
When I was found and brought back home
It never happened; I'm here alone.

I did nothing to dishonor
Yet you still dishonor me.
How can you disremember
When my soul is not yet free?

I should not have been forgotten; you don't even know my fate.
Am I buried in some wreckage or alive but forced to wait
'Til God calls me home up yonder
And I pass through Heaven's Gate?

I will not ask forgiveness
As I did nothing wrong.
I won't ask to be remembered
By grand words in some sweet song.

I am here because you left me.
It's so simple, don't you see?
There's but one thing I ask of thee,
"When will you come for me?"

By what right was I abandoned;
By whose say was I betrayed?
When was honor so forsaken
Leaving me was first OK?

I am an M I A
Still waiting here today.

Author unknown

Some books I recommend reading are listed below. I picked these up at my local library.
1.The Soldiers Story (Vietnam In Their Own Words) Author: Ron Steinman
2. Kiss The Boys Goodbye (How The US Betrayed It's Own POW's In Vietnam) Author: Monika Jensen - Stevenson & William Stevenson
3. Prisoners Of Hope Author: Susan Katz Keating
4. Desertion (In The Time Of Vietnam) Author: Jack Todd
5. A Better War Author: Lewis Sorley
6. Prelude To Tragedy Vietnam 1960-1965 Edited by Harvey Neese and John O'Donnell Foreword by Richard Holbrooke

Page Updated March 18, 2002 9:25 a.m.

Please remember those lost in the 9-11 tragedies at the WTC, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. And remember to always tell your loved ones that you love them, you never know when it could be your last time together.

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Below you will find the awards given to me for Donald's Page.

"This Award is issued to this site by the Advisory Board of the POW/MIA Freedom Fighters Organization, for it's early and steadfast commitment to our missing Warriors"

Most of the graphics used on this page came from Doc. Thanks for the awesome graphics Doc! God Bless You!

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