On his birthday in April 1968, Sergeant First Class Samuel J. Padgett and three other U.S. soldiers boarded a CH-34 helicopter flying on a mission to Kham Duc, South Vietnam.
During the flight, the chopper unexpectedly lost power, descended rapidly, and crashed into the jungle. A rescue team was dispatched immediately, but due to the intense heat of the flames, they could only watch as the bodies burned inside.
After the flames were extinguished, three of the four men’s bodies were found and identified. SFC Padgett, however, was missing. In the days that followed, two platoons scoured the surrounding jungle, believing him to have possibly fallen from the helicopter prior to the crash. Despite their efforts, nobody was ever recovered.
In January 2017, nearly fifty years to the day, a team of archaeologists and U.S. service members, armed with new evidence and modern technology, returned to the site of the crash in hopes of repatriating SFC Padgett and returning him home to his family.
Jose Rodriguez is a filmmaker, photographer, and Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. For three years, he served as a cameraman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and documented evidence found during archaeological excavations. Currently, he is an instructor at the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Maryland, where he teaches soldiers the basics in photography and videography.
Joe Day is a filmmaker and writer currently living in Los Angeles. He served five years in the Army as a combat cameraman, deploying twice to Afghanistan where he produced over a dozen short documentaries that highlighted various combat operations across the country.
This selection of shorts include documentaries about the Vietnam War, the Veterans, and the War’s aftermath.