Name: Randolph Bothwell Suber
Rank/Branch: Sgt. E-5/U.S.Army Special Forces
Unit: MACV-SOG, 5th Special forces Group
Date of Birth: 22 May 1947
Home of Record: Ballwin, Missouri
Date of Loss: 13 November 1969
Country of Loss: LAOS
Loss Coordinates: 155813N 1070227E
Status (in 1973) Missing in Action
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following:
Raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families,published
sources.interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. Network
lOther personnel in Incident: Ronald E. Ray (MIA)k here to add your text.
SSgt. Ronald E. Ray was a platoon leader and Sgt. Randolph
B. Suber a rifleman and a team leader of a six-man recon team
on a mission in Laos. Both were assigned to Command and
Control North, MACV-SOG.
On November 13, 1969 Ray and Suber and their team were on
a reconnaissance mission about 15 miles inside Laos in Sara-
vane Province when they were attacked by a numerically sup-
erior force at 1600 hours (4 PM).
In the intial fire fight, 3 indigenous were killed, Ray sustained
chest and arm wounds and fell to the ground, groaned and
became silent.rOne indigenous team member, Nguyen Van Bon,
checked Ray and shook him, but obtained no response. Ray's
weapon was smashed.text.
Bon stated that he last saw Randolph Suber trying to gain
contact on his URC-10 emergency radio, then picked up his
weapon and aim at four approaching hostile soldiers, but the
rifle didn't fire because it became jammed, and that Suber,was
hit immediately afterward and fell to the ground. Bon said he
called out to Suber, but he didn't answer or move. Their area
was overrun by enemy forces and Bon evaded capture and
was ultimately rescued.
Even though the report given by Bon may lead one to assume
Ray and Suber are dead, the Army classified them as Missing
in Action. There are a number of reasons to support this deter-
mination, including mistrust of indigenous reports. If Ray and
Suber had merely been incapacitated, many Army personnel
would say that the indigenous would look to his own safety
first, disregarding the fate of the wounded American's.
As a general trend, the Army didn't accept indigenous reports
that were in conflict with or unsubstantiated by other informa-
tion. Another factor, of course, could be that the Army knew that
they were not dead. It is not uncommon for details of loss incid-
ents in laos to be sketchy, because according to our Government
American servicemen were not in Laos or Cambodia.
These missions were top secret and under the direction of the
CIA. MACV-SOG team members frequently had maps printed
with distorted international boundary lines, to have some type
of plausible denial if captured by the enemy. Also to futher help
conceal the nature of it's operations, it was SOG's policy to re-
port its casualties as having occurred in South Vietnam.
To ensure operational security, American personnel conducted
the planning activities for OPS-35. The OPS-35 element had no
counterpart relationship like that between the 5th SFGA and the
Vietnamese Special Forces, Lac Luong Dac Biet.
For every insertion like Ray andSuber's that were detected and
stopped, uncountless other commando teams safely slipped
past North Vietnamese Army lines to strike a wide range of NVA
tragets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG
missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams
into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969.
It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabo-
tage,and intelligence gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S.
military history. MACV-SOG teams earned a global reputation
as one of the most combat effective deep penetration forces
The mission Ray and Suber and others were assigned were
exceedingly dangerous and of strategic importance. The men
who were put into such situations knew the chances of their recovery if captured was slim to none. They quite naturally
assumed that their freedom would come at the end of the war.
For 591 Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war.
But for another 2,500, however, freedom has never come.
Another sad incident, SSgt. Ronald Ray was on his 3rd tour
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing
Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
convincing many authorities that hundreds remain alive in
captivity. Ray and Suber could be amoung them. If so what
must they think of us and our Government who turned their
back on them and never lifted a finger to obtain their release.