HANDRAHAN, EUGENE ALLEN
|Name: Eugene Allen Handrahan
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division
Date of Birth: 30 July 1947
Home City of Record: St. Paul MN
Date of Loss: 10 October 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 110314N 1062420E (XT535222)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
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: Eugene Handrahan was drafted in November, 1967. He considered
going to Canada, but that just wasn't the way things were done in his
midwestern family. After boot camp, he returned home to be married, and
shipped out to Vietnam on April 25, 1968.
Gene was a foot soldier and carried a grenade launcher for Company A, 2nd
Battalion, 12th Infantry. On October 10, SP4 Handrahan and his squad were
setting up an ambush on an enemy position about 50 miles northwest of Saigon
and two miles from the Cambodian border. Company A was about to enter a
hedge row when a machine gun opened up on the squad. Gene was the left point
flank man. During the initial burst of fire, Gene yelled that he had been
hit, but after one buddy was killed trying to reach him, the squad was
ordered back while the area was bombed. Two other men had also been hit in
the initial fire. The other two men were under constant observation by
command and control helicopters, although nothing could be seen of SP4
Handrahan. Enemy fire prevented the three from being evacuated, although
repeated attempts were made to do so.
Late in the day, the officer in command determined that all three men were
dead and called in an air strike and artillery fire on the enemy position in
the hedge row. The next day, the bodies of the other two men were recovered,
but SP4 Handrahan was not located.
At Handrahan's last known location, a large bomb crater was found. Digging
into the edges of the crater failed to reveal any evidence of remains. No
leads were ever found on his fate from area residents.
A later report indicated that the bodies of American soldiers had been
placed in a well in the vicinity. This report was thought to possibly
correlate with the Handrahan incident.
Gene's family was told by other team members that they could hear Gene
yelling for help throughout the night, that he was wounded and could not
move. The team members found a "spider hole" close to where he was, and
believed it was probable that he had been pulled into the hole.
For many years, the Vietnamese have developed complex tunnel systems in many
parts of the country. The tunnels served them well in war with the French,
and again when the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam war. Veterans speak of
concealed entrances over tunnel complexes so vast that entire hospitals and
larges supply stores were found. It was possible to exist indefinitely in
the system and travel for fairly lengthy distances without ever leaving the
underground. It was not uncommon for Americans to occupy the topside, only
to later discover that the enemy was numerous beneath them.
It is hard to imagine the agony felt by both Gene and his listening team
members through the night. It is impossible to imagine how difficult it must
have been for the officer in command to call in air strikes on this
position. When a man is sent to war he anticipates being wounded or even
killed; and perhaps being captured. The thought that he might be abandoned,
wounded and alone, probably never occurred to Gene Handrahan.
Nearly 10,000 reports have been received by the U.S. Government concerning
Americans still missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities believe there
are hundreds still alive. Gene Handrahan's family believes many are alive,
waiting for their country to rescue them. They don't know whether to pray
Gene is one of them, or that he died without ever having to learn that the
country he so proudly served had abandoned him.
Eugene's sister Joan is still active in the P.O.W. issue, while she raises
three daughters. Papers and reports still periodically come and go from
Eugene's file, although "pages are never removed" Joan's been told. Some
items are still classified, and the family wonders why. Eugene's wife and
daughter maintain a quiet vigil to this day. His mom and dad still wait for
answers living just one day at a time.
Eugene Handrahan is mentioned daily from the stage of Mike Radford's
"Remember When" show at the IMAX Theater in Branson, Mo. His bracelet has
become part of "Grandma's Attic," and a constant reminder of those not yet