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 Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 1301 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 1998. REMARKS: 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.
1998 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 home.