RYKOSKEY, EDWARD JAY
Name: Edward Jay Rykoskey Rank/Branch: E3/US Marine Corps Unit: L/3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division Date of Birth: 11 May 1946 Home City of Record: Carlisle PA Date of Loss: 18 August 1966 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 160338N 1081218E (AT819613) Status in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 0434 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 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 2004.
SYNOPSIS: Edward Rykoskey graduated from Carlisle High School in 1964, and joined the Marine Corps rather than wait to be drafted. The second year of his enlistment was to be spent in Vietnam, where he was shipped early in 1966.
On August 18, 1966, with four months of his tour left, Edward served as the radio man for a reconnaissance patrol consisting of four men which went out in the Da Nang area. Returning to Da Nang, the patrol was ambushed. Three men survived, and reported that Edward Rykoskey did not. Search parties were sent out to find Rykoskey's body, but after three or four days, they stopped looking. Edward was originally classified Killed In Action, status changed to Missing In Action, and later back to Killed in Action.
Whether Rykoskey lived or died that day in August 1966 will not be known for certain until there is proof positive of his death or survival. The U.S. and the Vietnamese have yet to determine the formula which would successfully resolve the questions that linger about the nearly 2500 Americans who did not return from the war in Vietnam.
Tragically, there have been over 10,000 reports received concerning Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, many in captivity. While the rest of America tries to forget the war in Vietnam, these men, and their friends and families cannot. We must bring them home. They are America's sons.
POW/MIA observance Sept. 17
By: Duane Crawford - Contributing Reader September 06, 2004
Other than birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, patriotic days and a few other dates, there are certain days in everyone's life that can never be forgotten. Each year our nation marks the third Friday in September as POW/MIA Remembrance Day. Along with the thousands of families still missing from America's wars, I will pause to remember. August 18, 1966, and the days that followed will forever be etched in my mind. On that date, thirty-eight years ago, my platoon of Marines was conducting patrols from a hill in the middle of "Dodge City," a hostile area about 15 miles southwest of Da Nang, South Vietnam. Though I was nearing the end of my Vietnam tour and anticipating my return to the peaceful autumn beauty of south central Iowa, I was also scheduled for R&R to Australia in a few days. Like all August days in Vietnam, the sun was scorching the earth by mid-morning. Sometime in the afternoon word came that a four-man reconnaissance team was missing in the dense jungle of Happy Valley, which was an enemy sanctuary. Our battalion was immediately alerted and ordered to conduct a helicopter assault into the region, with the mission of locating the team. My reservations for my only R&R were instantly scrubbed. Supported by UH-1 Huey gun ships, Hotel Company went in first in CH-46 choppers. My unit, Golf Company, was to follow in succeeding waves. What none of us knew was that the enemy occupied the high terrain surrounding the small landing zone (LZ). Even though the enemy was taken by surprise, they caused Hotel Company to suffer heavy casualties and the fighting became intense. When Golf Company's lead birds approaced the LZ, we already knew there was big trouble on the ground. We were terrified! Compared to the smaller Hueys, those troop carrying CH-46s are huge and slow moving targets. Several took hits and one went down. When our chopper was several feet from the LZ my heli-team of 12-15 Marines tumbled out, landed in a heap and scrambled for what little cover we could find. After close air support and artillery was called in to pound the enemy positions, we were finally able to secure the LZ, evacuate our casualties and dig our fighting holes for the night. Early in the morning of Aug. 19, we began to move in column toward the last reported location of the reconnaissance team. Contact with the elusive enemy in the thick jungle was frequent and close. Sometime around midday we were notified that three members of the team had arrived back at their unit. The fourth Marine, 20-year-old LCpl Edward Jay Rykoskey from Carlisle, Penn., and the team's radio operator, had been killed in an ambush. To evade the much larger force, the team hid LCpl Rykoskey's body. Because the radio was destroyed during the ambush, the team couldn't communicate with their headquarters. One other member of the team, a Navy corpsman, had been wounded in the ambush but was able to walk out. The two uninjured Marines soon joined our battalion to help in the search for LCpl Rykoskey. Our outstanding battalion commander, Lt. Col. Victor Oghanesian, said, "He's a Marine! He's one of ours! We keep looking!" In the thick jungle, we suffered casualties. But we kept looking. Day after day, platoons fanned out to search for our brother-in-arms. Every day there was close contact with the enemy. We found a large enemy base camp, an underground hospital, weapons caches and many tunnels and caves. Gunny Myers, the recon team's leader, was wounded and evacuated. Echo Company was brought in to join the hunt. Echo's company commander was 1st Lt Jerry Nugent, whose brother, Pat, was marring President Lyndon Johnson's youngest daughter, Luci, that same week. Jerry had been invited to the White House for the wedding, but he declined. "My job is to lead my Marines," he told us officers. "I'll stay in Vietnam until my tour is complete." For the better part of two weeks, we kept looking. Our efforts became known as Operation Alleghany, and our casualties mounted. Because LCpl Rykoskey was a member of our Band of Brothers, we didn't want to end the search. Division Headquarters finally ended the operation despite a plea from our battalion commander to give us more time. Disappointed, we returned to Dodge City. Before the end of September 1966, I caught my Freedom bird, as we called those welcome flights home, and within hours I was safely back in Iowa watching Hawkeye football and enjoying family and friends. Lt Col Oghanesian and other close friends were killed in action on March 1, 1967. During my second tour in 1968-1969, we conducted Operation Oklahoma Hills in the Happy Valley area. This time our mission was only to search for and destroy a large enemy force. Even though I'd never met LCpl Rykoskey, I never forgot his name and was always hoping he'd be found. Sometime in the late 1980s, I noticed a letter from Ed Rykoskey in the Mail Call section of the Leatherneck magazine. Ed requested to hear from anyone who had knowledge of his son's missing in action status. I wrote to him, and we began to correspond. During a visit to Carlisle, Penn., to see a Marine buddy from the war, I called Ed and Mary Rykoskey, and we set a time to visit. Since I'd taken the maps of the Happy Valley region, the Rykoskey's wanted me to point out the approximate location where their son would be. All I could do was outline the general area, which consisted of four grid squares. They asked me many questions. Some I could answer and some I could not. Ed had served in the U.S. Army in Europe in World War II. On the wall of their older but attractive two-story home, they have a picture of Edward in his dress blues. Also on that wall, there was a picture of a daughter and a younger son, George in his Marine blues. "George graduated from high school a year after Edward was killed," Ed said. "One day he said to me, 'Dad, I'm joining the Marines and go find Edward.'" Of course, the Marine Corps wisely did not send him to Vietnam. Before leaving that day, Ed gave me a black and silver POW/MIA bracelet to wear. He said, "I order a bunch of these every year and pass them out. We don't want America to forget. Our family will never have peace until Edward comes home." I wear the bracelet often. This Friday, Sept. 17, is POW/MIA Remembrance Day. That day will mark 38 years and 30 days since LCpl Edward Jay Rykosket was left in that jungle valley. He would have been 58 years old. He has missed a lifetime of joys. His family still waits for his return. Beside LCpl Rykoskey, thousands of other brave Americans are still missing from foreign wars. Their families still grieve. SFC James Derwin Cohron, whose home of record is listed as Centerville, Iowa, was reported missing in action in Vietnam on January 12, 1968. He is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D. C. He has not been found. With America involved in the War on Terrorism, there will be more men and women who will be captured and declared missing in action. Other families will mourn and wait. On Friday, Sept. 17, let us not forget!