U.S. Army – Vietnam
Captain Gary Lionel Vinas was the only Mercer County Vietnam fatality to serve in MACV – the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. He was a member of Advisory Team 99 in Duc Lap, about 80 miles southwest of the 25th ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam). Advisory Team 99 had the responsibility for advising the Division’s 49th Regiment.
MACV advisers had a very specialized and tricky role. They were expected to use their American military experience and know-advise their Vietnamese counterparts about all aspects of their unit’s operation – to recommend solutions to everything from administrative problems to tactical and operational challenges. The tricky part was persuading the Vietnamese to implement the solutions they recommended. To be effective, the adviser had to befriend his counterpart and win his confidence. One of the most effective ways to do this was to convince his counterpart that the solution was really his own idea to start with.
This was particularly important at the lowest level of the MACV operation. Regimental advisory teams were small, consisting of only three members of the United States military. They had to form very close and trusting relationships. To do that, they had to be willing to participate in every aspect of the regiment’s activities – including combat operations.
Because of the decentralization of the MACV structure, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find out what happened in a specific time and place. We have no details about the death ofCaptain Vinas, other than the fact that he was on a combat operation with the regiment he was advising. All that was reported is that he was a ground casualty as a result of an explosive device, probably a land mine.
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Panel 10E Line 2