Name: Richard Robert Perricone
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
Date of Birth: 1946
Home City of Record: Uniondale NY
Date of Loss: 12 Jul 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 134026N 1073809E (YA850131)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Other Personnel In Incident: Nathan B. Henry; Cordine McMurray; Stanley A.
Newell; Martin S. Frank (all released); James F. Schiele; James L. Vanbendegom
(both missing). Held with men from at least two other incidents including:
Incident on 18 May 1967: Joe L. DeLong (missing); Incident on 17 Feb 1967:
David W. Sooter (released).   2023


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.

SYNOPSIS: In the spring of 1973, 591 American Prisoners of War were released
from prisons and camps in Vietnam. Among them were six of a group of nine U.S.
Army 4th Infantry Division personnel captured in and near Pleiku Province,
South Vietnam during the year of 1967 whose lives had been intertwined for the
past six years. All had belonged to that part of the "Ivy Division" which was
assigned to Task Force Oregon conducting border operations called Operation
Sam Houston (1 Jan - 5 Apr 67) and Operation Francis Marion (5 Apr - 12 Oct

On February 17, 1967, W1 David W. Sooter was the only man captured from a OH23
helicopter downed at the southeastern edge of Kontum Province near the edge of
Pleiku Province, and near the Cambodian border.

PFC Joe Lynn DeLong was the machine gunner for his company, on a company-sized
patrol in Rotanokiri Province, Cambodia on May 18, 1967. (Note: most records
list this loss as in South Vietnam, and coordinates place it in the Ia Drang
Valley, Pleiku Province, South Vietnam near the border of Cambodia, but U.S.
Army casualty reports state that the loss was in Kotanokiri Province,
Cambodia.) While on patrol, his unit was hit by a Viet Cong force of unknown
size and cut off from the rest of the company. DeLong's platoon formed a
defensive perimeter and attempted to hold their position. Later that day, at
about 1830 hours, DeLong's platoon position was overrun. The next morning,
another unit reached his position, and was able to account for all platoon
members except for DeLong. It was later learned that DeLong had been captured.

Nearly two months later, on July 12, 1967, SP4 Martin S. Frank, PFC Nathan B.
Henry, Sgt. Cordine McMurray, PFC Stanley A. Newell, PFC Richard R. Perricone,
SP4 James F. Schiele and PFC James L. Van Bendegom, all members of Company B,
1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, were conducting a search
and destroy mission along the Cambodian border when their position was overrun
by the Viet Cong. With the execption of Schiele, all the men were captured.
The U.S. Army notes that Schiele and Van Bendegom were captured by the North
Vietnamese, while the others, apparently, were captured by Viet Cong.

PFC Schiele was seen by his platoon leader as his unit was forced to withdraw,
leaving him behind. He had been hit a number of times by automatic weapons
fire in the legs and chest and was thought to be dead. PFC Perricone stated in
his debrief upon return to the U.S. that the enemy camp commander of Camp 102
told him that SP4 Schiele had died of wounds received in the fire fight.
However, since there was no positive proof of death, the U.S. government
placed Schiele in a Missing in Action category. Classified information given
to the Vietnamese by Gen. John Vessey in 1987, however, states that both
Schiele and Van Bendegom were captured by the North Vietnamese.

PFC Vanbendegom was also wounded in the engagement, and was seen alive by
other Americans captured in the same battle about one week after his capture
at a communist field hospital in Cambodia, not far from his capture location.
One of the released Americans was later told by the commanding North
Vietnamese officer at his prison camp in Cambodia that SP4 Vanbendegom had
died of his wounds. Vanbendegom was categorized as a Prisoner of War.

The other seven Americans were held in prison camps on the Vietnam/Cambodia
border for several months. According to the debriefs of releasees Sooter and
Perricone, they and DeLong had attempted to escape from a border camp in
Cambodia on November 6, 1967, but were recaptured the same day. Two days
later, Sooter and Perricone were shown DeLong's bullet-ridden and blood-soaked
trousers and were told that DeLong had been killed resisting recapture. The
Vietnamese included DeLong's name on a list of prisoners who had died in
captivity (saying he died in November 1967), did not return his remains, and
did not offer any explanation.

Sooter, Frank, Henry, Perricone, McMurray and Newell were all released by the
PRG in 1973. Frank was never known to be a prisoner by the U.S. Henry was
injured, and maintains a permanent disability today. The U.S. is certain the
Vietnamese also know the fates of DeLong, Schiele and Vanbendegom, but the
Vietnamese continue to remain silent.

Since the end of the war, only a few score of the many remains the Vietnamese
could provide have been returned to U.S. control. Each return of remains
signals some political move by the Vietnamese. Strong moves towards
normalization of relations began in the mid-80's, which most Americans would
not oppose. As evidence mounts that hundreds of Americans are still held
captive by these same governments the U.S. is rushing to befriend, many
concerned Americans believe that in our rush to leave Indochina, we abandoned
our best men. And that in our rush to return, we will sign their death


Richard and his wife Maria live in New York.

Sat Feb 21 1998


   Twenty-five years ago last week, the first of 556 American
prisoners of war began arriving home from captivity in North Vietnam.
In poignant scenes emblazoned on the American memory, the survivors
embraced families, friends and lives forever changed by the conflict.
What follows is the story of one remarkable New Yorker who returned
and thrived.......


More info