LILLY, LAWRENCE EUGENE
Name: Lawrence Eugene Lilly Rank/Branch: O2/US Army Unit: Troop A, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) Date of Birth: 17 February 1946 (Santa Monica CA) Home City of Record: Los Angeles CA Date of Loss: 17 March 1971 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 121018N 1062204E (XU487457) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AH1G Refno: 1728
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 2004.
Other Personnel in Incident: Capt. David P. Schweitzer (rescued); on UH1H: Richard L. Bauman; Craig M. Dix; Bobby G. Harris (all missing); James H. Hestand (released POW)
SYNOPSIS: On March 17, 1971, Capt. David P. Schweitzer, pilot and 1Lt. Lawrence E. Lilly, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an AH1G helicopter (serial #69-17935) conducting a visual reconnaissance mission. As the aircraft was near a landing zone at grid coordinates XU488458, it was hit by enemy fire of the F-21B Infantry Regiment, 5th Viet Cong Division and forced to the ground. The LZ was deep inside Cambodia in the Snuol District of Kracheh (Kratie) Province, near Seang Village.
Rescue efforts were successful in extracting Capt. Schweitzer, but due to heavy enemy fire, they were forced to leave the area before Lilly could be extracted. Lt. Lilly was last seen by U.S. personnel lying on his back wth his shirt partially open and blood on his chest and neck. He was observed being fired upon by Viet Cong forces.
In mid-April 1971, a report described two U.S. personnel onboard a helicopter shot down in this region getting out of the helicopter and climbing a tree, and firing upon enemy forces. One of the crewmen was shot to death, and the other was captured by Viet Cong soldiers of the 6th Company, 2nd Battalion, F21B Infantry Regiment. The report continued that both crewmen were caucasian and had light complexions. The source described the POW and said that he was later told that the dead airman had been cremated by Cambodian villagers who had come to salvage parts from the aircraft. Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) evaluated the report and concluded that it could possibly relate either to Lilly's incident or another the same day at the same location.
The other incident related to a UH1H helicopter flown by WO1 James H. Hestand and carrying CW2 Richard L. Bauman; SP4 Craig M. Dix; and SP4 Bobby G. Harris. The aircraft was shot down near Snuol. A medivac chopper lowered a jungle penetrator to men seen on the ground through triple canopy jungle, but was forced to leave the area due to enemy fire and low fuel.
Five ARVN were captured in the same operation and were told by Viet Cong guards that three chopper crew members had just been captured. One was killed in the crash, one was shot in the leg (ankle) trying to escape. The wounded crewmember and two others were finally captured.
James Hestand was captured and was released in 1973. In his debriefing, he reported that Craig Dix was the one who had been shot in the upper right ankle. Hestand stated that Dix was ambulatory and evading capture at the time of his own capture. Hestand also stated that, when last seen, CW2 Bauman was alive, in good condition, and was hiding with Dix. Hestand said that he had seen the body of Harris, whom he believed to be dead because of throat lacerations and a discoloration of his body. Harris had been thrown from the aircraft. Hestand was separated from the others when he was captured, and had no further information on Dix, Bauman or Harris. Defense Department notes indicate that Harris was killed in the crash. Defense Department notes indicate that some intelligence say that Bauman, Dix and Harris are dead, yet other intelligence reports placed Dix in a Cambodian hospital after having been captured, and according to Hestand, the two were alive and well the last time he saw them.
An ARVN ground unit entered the battle area to try to rescue Lilly, but found him dead. The unit came under heavy fire, and in the course of the battle, the body was lost to the enemy. Lilly's remains were never recovered.
In 1988, the Cambodian government announced that it had the remains of a number of American servicemen it wished to return to the United States. The U.S. did not respond officially, however, because there are no diplomatic ties between Cambodia and the U.S. Several U.S. Congressmen have attempted to intervene and recover the remains on behalf of American family members, but Cambodia wishes an official overture. Meanwhile, the bodies of Americans remain in the hands of our former enemy.
Even more tragically, evidence mounts that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia, still prisoners from a war many have long forgotten. It is a matter of pride in the armed forces that one's comrades are never left behind. One can imagine any of the men lost in Cambodia on March 17, 1971, being willing to go on one more mission for the freedom of those heroes we left behind.
====================== Missing Vietnam Soldier's Sister Grateful for DoD Help
By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2004 - In Arlington National Cemetery there's a gravesite marking U.S. Army 1st Lt. Lawrence E. Lilly's passage from this world to the next.
However, the lieutenant's remains aren't buried there, explained Sue Harvey, Lilly's sister. And therein lies the tale.
Harvey, 57, an Alexandria, Va., resident and Army employee, believes her brother's remains are probably located somewhere in Cambodia, where he was reported killed in action on March 17, 1971, during the Vietnam War.
Harvey said her brother was co-piloting a Cobra helicopter gunship reportedly on a secret mission into Cambodia at the time of his death. Enemy ground fire brought down the helicopter, she said, and her 25-year-old brother and the pilot left the stricken machine.
What happened next in that Cambodian rice paddy, Harvey said, has haunted her for almost 35 years.
Lilly and the pilot had exited, unharmed, on opposite sides of the downed aircraft, she said, as enemy troops approached and began to direct intense small-arms fire at the soldiers and at another U.S. helicopter that was attempting to rescue the pair.
The pilot was able to use the Cobra to shield himself from enemy gunfire, Harvey said, while her brother was caught out in the open and was reportedly shot and wounded. The Cobra pilot, she noted, was rescued.
The following day another helicopter rescue team was dispatched to the area where her brother was last seen, Harvey noted. Although some accounts reported rescuers had "seen a body," presumably that of her brother, Harvey said his remains were never found.
About six months later, she said the Army listed her brother as killed in action.
The U.S. government at that time wouldn't disclose that the military was operating in Cambodia. Because of the sensitivities of her brother's mission, Harvey said, few details were made available to her family. He was listed as killed in action and that, she said, was basically that.
"It was a different time. We weren't even 'officially' in Cambodia," Harvey pointed out, noting her family privately coped with Lawrence's death. The only public account her family had of her brother's situation, she said, "was a three-line newspaper clipping" from a local paper noting he was missing in action.
However, during the late 1980s, Harvey was working for the Army when she -- by accident -- came upon more information about her brother. A thick Army file listed more details about her brother's mission, she noted, as well as subsequent operations undertaken to find him.
"I was stunned," Harvey recalled, noting that was when she'd realized "the military had a real commitment to soldiers, even though they didn't make it home."
Later, Harvey came into contact with a DoD organization that specializes in prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action issues, now known as the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.
DPMO personnel, she said, have over the years continued to make visits to the Cambodian site where her brother was last seen in efforts to find his remains.
"They are even going so far as to interview individuals from the Cambodian village nearby to see if they can recall any of the events," Harvey noted.
The DPMO office, Harvey noted, continues to update her family about "anything that is new that occurs on my brother's case."
Harvey, the daughter of a retired Air Force colonel and pilot who'd flown missions during World War II, the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War and Vietnam, said she is grateful that the U.S. government and the American public haven't forgotten about her brother, "because they're interested in the story you're telling them."
Harvey said her brother's name is inscribed onto the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Her family's pain caused by his loss, she noted, "has really never gone away" after almost 35 years.
"It would help bring closure," she acknowledged, if someday her brother's remains were found in Cambodia and returned to the family.
"It would be special to have a ceremony for him," she concluded.