LACEY, RICHARD JOSEPH
Name: Richard Joseph Lacey Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Unit: Long Lines Detachment South, Regional Communications Group, 1st Signal Brigade Date of Birth: 25 August 1946 Home City of Record: Pittsburgh PA Date of Loss: 31 January 1968 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 104535N 1063940E (XS816898) Status in 1973: Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground/Jeep Other Personnel in Incident: William C. Behrens (killed)
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1999 with information from Thomas Lassek.
SYNOPSIS: Richard Lacey was 19 with a year and a half of college when he volunteered for the Army. He was selected for Officer Training, but elected instead to stay in the techical field after completing the first phase of Signal Corps schooling. After a year of technical training Lacey was equipped to repair and maintain long lines and was sent to Vietnam in the summer of 1967. He felt lucky to be stationed at the Stratcom Communications Base near Saigon.
During the Tet offensive, when Richard had been in Vietnam six months, there was a breakdown of local communications. In the early morning hours, SP5 Lacey and SP4 William Charles Behrens left the Phu Lam Long Lines Detachment in a jeep to reach the Regional Communications group in Saigon to relay the many calls for help from the areas under seige. The two were never heard from again.
On February 3, 1968, SP4 Behren's body was identified at the Than San Nhut Mortuary by members of his unit. SP5 Lacey was never found, and there are no records of where Behren's remains were recovered, or who brought them to the Mortuary.
Between April 8 and April 15, the jeep was recovered at an unknown location. The condition of the vehicle is not noted.
Following the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements, 591 American prisoners were released from North Vietnam. Many of them had been captured in South Vietnam, but Richard Lacey was not among them. Government officials later expressed their shock that "hundreds" more Americans that were expected to be released were not. The U.S. Government has been unable to secure the freedom of any more prisoners held in Vietnam, even though nearly 10,000 reports have been received concerning Americans still missing in Southeast Asia.
Richard Lacey's family has many unanswered questions. The most important of these is whether or not Richard is one of the hundreds many authorities believe are still captive in Southeast Asia. It's time we brought our men home.
[r1011.97] PROJECT X SUMMARY SELECTION RATIONALE
NAME: LACEY, Richard J., SP5, USA
OFFICIAL STATUS: MISSING
CASE SUMMARY: SEE ATTACHED
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION: The circumstances surrounding the incident do not provide any evidence of Specialist Lacey's possible capture or death. His companion's body was recovered, but there is no information about the status of SP5 Lacey.
REFNO: 1011 20 Apr 76
(U) CASE SUMMARY
1. On 31 January 1968 SP5 Richard J. Lacey and SP4 William C. Behrens left the Phu Lam communications facility ('Saigon area) in the early morning hours to deliver a message to the Regional Communications Group (also Saigon area). As there was considerable fighting in Saigon at this time, it is believed that the two men ran into the enemy. On 3 February (1968) SP4 Behrens' body was identified at the Tan Son Nnut Mortuary by members of his unit, but there was no record of when nor where his body had been found. The jeep in which the two men were riding was recovered sometime between 8 and 15 April (1968), but there is no record of where the vehicle was found nor was the condition of it noted. Specialist Lacey was never found. (The grid coordinates of XS 816 898 are provided as the general, probable location of the loss). (Ref 1)
2. ADO MR III Comment - Details of this case were given to the Two-Party Joint Military Team. and to the Special Assistant to the Ambassador for field operations, U.S. EMB Saigon. These details were subsequently given to the Mayor of Saigon, but neither PubCom nor National Police Special Branch investigators could develop any leads or additional information in this case. Go Vap District officials recovered a set of remains in October 1974 that possibly correlate to this REFNO, but CILTHAI determined remains to be Mongoloid. This individual's name and identifying data were turned over to Four-Party Joint Military Team with a request for any information available. No response was forthcoming. SP5 Lacey is currently carried in the status of Missing.
1. RPT (U), Findings of the MIA Board, HQ US-KRV, 18 MAR 68.
* National Alliance of Families Home Page
------------------------------------------------------------- From - Wed Jun 09 09:03:54 1999
Please feel free to use the following information concerning Richard Lacey, Missing In Action, as you so see fit. It is my intention to correct his MIA date to 31 January 1968 [CACCF]. I was stationed with Richard in Phu Lam, Republic of Vietnam, during this time period. You may use me as the reference and also may provide my name and email address if and when required.
Thomas E. Lassek firstname.lastname@example.org
"Richard Lacey, William Behrens, myself and others were stationed in Phu Lam, Republic of Vietnam, an isolated communications complex, physically located on the outskirts of Saigon, on the road to Cu Chi. Richard and myself were trained and worked as 'communications technical controllers'. William was, as I recall, a microwave specialist. We supported communications needs as directed by the Department of Defense.
On the day of the incident, Richard and William obtained permission to use a standard army jeep (m-151) for their trip to Regional Communications Headquarters in Saigon. Richard, who was an Acting Sergeant at the time, refused me permission to go with them stating that they didn't want to babysit a kid.
They were both heavily armed and I believe William was driving. They exited the main gate (homemade) and turned left towards Saigon. They passed through Cholon (a predominately Chinese 'suburb' of Saigon), then onward towards the Regional Communications Headquarters. Enroute, they approached the Vietnamese Phu toe racetrack area. It was later discovered that the cement bleacher and racetrack complex was being used as a field hospital by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong.
Appropriately, the enemy defended this area in a multitude of different ways, one of which was to station a machine gun crew in an abandoned 'gas station' on the road approaching their complex and as Richard and William sped by, they were summarily attacked. Some time later, as the area was cleared of the enemy by elements of US Army Infantry, William was found and taken to the Mortuary at Tan Son Nhut where he was eventually identified by co-workers from Phu Lam. Richard was never found, nor as I understand it, could the Infantry offer any explanation as to his whereabouts, other than to speculate that he was taken prisoner. He was simply no where in the area. The date was 31 January 1968.
To the best of my knowledge, Richard was never seen or heard from again. "
Thomas E. Lassek