CECIL, ALAN BRUCE
Name: Alan Bruce Cecil
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Special Forces
Unit: CCN - MACV-SOG, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 05 September 1946
Home City of Record: Holdenville OK
Date of Loss: 21 September 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165104N 1061939E (XD414634)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: SP5 Alan B. Cecil was a rifleman assigned from 5th Special Forces
to Command and Control North (CCN), MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command,
Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high
command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified
operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled
personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through
Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while
under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration
missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called,
depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
On September 21, 1969, Cecil's team had been inserted into Laos about 20
miles west of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on a reconnaissance mission. The
region was heavily travelled by the enemy, moving troops and equipment along
the famed "Ho Chi Minh Trail".
Cecil's team engaged a numerically superior force, and in the initial burst
of fire, the team leader was wounded and SP5 Cecil and one indigenous team
member were killed. Cecil was hit in the head, and the remaining team later
reported that SP5 Cecil was no longer breathing. The team leader and one
remaining indigenous team member were able to escape and evade and were
eventually extracted safely that night, leaving Cecil's body behind.
Because of the enemy concentration in the area, no search or later
extraction was possible.
For every insertion like Cecil's that was detected and stopped, dozens of
other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of
targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions
conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia
was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding,
sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military
MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat
effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
The missions Cecil and others were assigned were exceedingly dangerous and
of strategic importance. The men who were put into such situations knew the
chances of their recovery if captured was slim to none. They quite naturally
assumed that their freedom would come by the end of the war. For 591
Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another 2500,
however, freedom has never come.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities
that hundreds remain alive in captivity. While Cecil may not be among them,
one can imagine he would gladly serve in an effort to bring them home.