JAMES MILAN ROZO
Sergeant First Class
595th Signal Company, 36th Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Group, 1st Signal Brigade
Army of the United States
18 October 1948 - 18 May 1979
Buffalo, New York
At about 0830 hours on 23 June 1970, the 595th Signal Company's supply sergeant, SFC Joe P. Pederson, departed Dian in a GMC 2-1/2 ton truck for a supply run to the 595th's outlying stations at Lai Khe and Phuoc Vinh in Binh Doung Province. SFC Pederson was accompanied by SP4 James M. Rozo and PVT Robert P. Phillips. They arrived in Lai Khe at about 1000 and departed at about 1100 enroute to Phuoc Vinh.
At 1530 the truck was found in a roadside ditch, both windscreens shattered by gunfire and the left front tire flat. Expended M-16 shell casings were found around the truck, but there was no sign of Pederson, Rozo, or Phillips. Ground and air searches located one dead Viet Cong, killed by a .45 caliber bullet (Pederson had carried a .45 sidearm), and three jammed M-16 rifles which proved to be those checked out by Pederson and his men. The searches did not locate the missing men, who were then formally placed in MIA status.
In September 1970 a VC defector claimed to be one of four VCs who ambushed the truck and captured the three men. The defector claimed that one of the Americans, a noncommissioned officer, died shortly after being captured and was buried not too far from the point of capture. The other two, he said, had been interrogated locally before being marched off in the direction of Cambodia. In November 1971, a captured VC soldier reported seeing two Americans being evacuated to Cambodia - his descriptions fit Rozo and Phillips.
As a result of these two debriefings SP4 Rozo and PVT Phillips were reclassified as prisoners of war while SFC Pederson was continued as Missing in Action. On 27 January 1973, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), better known as the Viet Cong, released a list containing the names of American POWs whom the VC said died in captivity, but none of the three were on that list nor were Pederson, Rozo, or Phillips among the POWs released in February/March 1973.
Over time the Secretary of the Army approved Presumptive Findings of death for the three men, Pederson on 01 Sep 1978, Phillips on 13 Feb 1979, and Rozo on 18 May 1979. Their remains have not been repatriated.
James Milan Rozo is honored on Panel 9W, Line 86 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
THE WHITE TABLE
A Remembrance to Our POW/MIAs
- The tablecloth is always white. White symbolizes the pure intention with which the comrades being honored have served.
- The table is small with a setting for just one person, reflecting the vulnerability of one prisoner against his enemy.
- A single rose in a vase sits on the table symbolizing the blood that has been shed. The rose also represents the families and loved ones that have been left behind and the faith they uphold that their loved one will one day return.
- A slice of lemon is placed on a bread plate as a reminder of their bitter fate. And the salt on this plate symbolizes the tears that have been shed by their families as they quietly wait.
- A glass on the table is inverted which denotes their inability to be with us and toast with us this night.
- A candle on the table represents the light in our hearts that accompanies the hope that they will one day find their way home.
- A chair is placed at the table and remains empty, for they are not here with us.