REMARKS: EVADED TO XT7297 WHERE KILLED
SYNOPSIS: On April 5, 1972, the 5th North Vietnamese Division suddenly smashed against the Loc Ninh district capitol before dawn, attacking as no enemy had yet attacked in that war. The Communist troops had Russian T-54 and PT-76 tanks, artillery and a conventional battle plan.
American forces in the area battled for two days before being overrun. On April 7, 1972, Maj. Albert E. Carlson; MSgt. Howard B. Lull; LtCol. Richard Schott; Capt. Mark A. Smith; and SFC Kenneth Wallingford were five advisors on Advisory Team 70, MACV, at Loc Ninh when the city was completely overrun. Radio contact was maintained until approximately 0800 hours, when the tactical operations center began burning. Later in the day, one of the advisors radioed that they were going into hiding, taking their radios with them.
After the incident, South Vietnamese Army personnel reported intercepting an enemy radio broadcast which stated that three United States advisors had been captured. Subsequent information recieved through intelligence sources reported that five Americans were taken prisoner. This report indicated that four of the prisoners had been taken to a temporary PW camp and one to an enemy hospital.
The Vietnamese captured Smith, Wallingford and Carlson whom they held in Cambodia for the remaining 10 months. On June 28, 1972, the U.S. Casualty division changed their status from missing to captured. The three were released at Loc Ninh in a general POW release in 1973.
Although most details of this incident are still classified, Capt. Smith indicated in his debriefing that he, Lull and Schott had been together in a bunker shortly before he was captured. Lull left the bunker to evade capture, while the severely wounded Schott knew he would not sirvive, and lifted his own weapon to his head and shot himself to give the others a chance to escape
Lull's family has been given a number of reports that possibly relate to Howard B. Lull. The one they find most credible was told to them from a military offical. This scenario has Lull leaving the bunker, and evading capture for about three days, while the other soldiers reportedly kept radio contact with him. The last word from Lull was that he was heading for An Loc, the provencial capital to the south
Two other tales are not as credible, Lull's family feels: One came from a South Vietnamese doctor who was captured by the communists after escaping with Lull. The doctor later told U.S. authorities that shortly after leaving the compound, Lull went into a rubber plantation that was hit by U.S. napalm.
The other account, from a South Vietnamese POW, had Lull buried in a shallow grave after being shot to death while crossing a stream with South Vietnamese soldiers.
One of the Americans who was captured at Loc Ninh reported asking his captors about Lull. The North Vietnamese officer replied that Lull was not cooperating and thus would not be going to prison with them.
No one really knows what happened to Howard Lull. Lull, if captured, was not taken to the same prison camps as were Smith, Carlson and Wallingford. Some reports say that he was killed by the North Vietnamese, but the U.S. continued his status as Missing In Action pending verification of death. Schott was carried Missing until Capt. Smith's debrief, at which time his status was changed to Killed In Action.