On June 5, 2002, a CD was presented to the National Archives at College Park. This CD represented years of work at identifying company-level units for all 58,000 Vietnam KIAs by: Richard D. Coffelt, Korean War veteran, David L. Argabright, 2/60th, 9th Division, Vietnam; and Richard J. Arnold, 35th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, Vietnam. The deeding of the database to the Archives ensured that it would forever remain in the public domain.
The project was started in the early 1980s by Richard D. Coffelt as an attempt to provide unit identification down to the company/battery/troop level for United States Army deaths in the Southeast Asian War. During the decade of the 1990s Richard J. Arnold and David L. Argabright began assisting Mr. Coffelt in the research effort. During 2001, much unit identification information was obtained for those members of the United States Marine Corps, the United States Air Force, and the United States Navy who died in Southeast Asia. While those involved in the research effort did not have the necessary time. other resources. and order of battle expertise to fulIy analyze and incorporate the data for the other Armed Forces into the database, it was decided to include the information in the format in which it was obtained so that others would have the benefit of the research findings. In 2002, significant additional amounts of Information for members of' all the Armed Forces were contributed by the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and The Virtual Wall.
Primary methods of identification included Presidential Letters of Condolence. Individual Deceased Personnel Files. Graves Registration records, as well as far too numerous to count input from former veterans, KIA relatives. and various division/regimental groups. The database name, "The Coffelt Database", was chosen in recognition of years of unselfish, tireless research by Richard. Clearly. he has established himself as the leading expert on Vietnam KlAs.
As of June 2002, the database had either complete (in most cases) or partial unit/ship identifications for those members of the Armed Forces who died as a result of service in Southeast Asia as follows: more than 37,000 of the 38,200 members of the US Army, more than 11,000 of the 14,836 members of the US Marine Corps, more than 1,700 of the 2,584 members of the US Air Force, more than 2,200 of the 2,564 members of the US Navy, and 3 of the 7 members of the US Coast Guard.
The information is as accurate as the researchers could make it. The authors deeply regret any erroneous unit designations that may be included in the database. The intent is to correct any errors in future releases of the database. However, it should be noted that the information in the database can only be as accurate as the Source documents or the memories of family members and those who served with the individuals listed in the database. In all too many instances the government documents provide conflicting unit designations or have been proven to be in error.
The database is the product of the efforts and financial contributions of private citizens. Despite appeals for monetary help to many major military organizations. only the 35th Infantry Association contributed any meaningful amount. The three lead researchers alone worked thousands of hours and spent more than ten thousand dollars of their personal funds. all without reimbursement. to make this project a reality.
Since June 2002. the three lead researchers have continued to work at identifying unitsand have recently completed their mission of identifying the units of all Vietnam KIAs.
The entire database has been given to the The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall and The Virtual Wall sites, and each major Army division/regiment organization has been supplied with their soldiers' identifications. You can download your own copy of the completed database from the Virtual Wall site as a compressed Excel file. If you have problems downloading, the web master and Coffelt Team member is Ken Davis.