NAME: Richard Joseph Lacey
UNIT: Long Lines Detachment South,
Regional Communications Group,
1st Signal Brigade
DATE OF BIRTH: 25 August 1946
HOME CITY OF RECORD: Pittsburgh, Pa.
DATE OF LOSS: 31 January 1968
COUNTRY OF LOSS: South Vietnam
LOSS COORDINATES: 104535N 1063940E (XS816898)
STATUS IN 1973: Missing In Action
OTHER PERSONNEL IN INCIDENT: William C. Behrens (killed)
Panel 36E-Line 20
Richard Lacey was 19 with a year and a half of college when he volunteered for the Army. He was selected for Officer Training but elected instead to stay in the technical field after completing the first phase of Signal Corps schooling. After a year of technical training, Lacey was equipped to repair and maintain long lines communications equipment and was sent to Vietnam in the summer of 1967. He felt lucky to be stationed at the STRATCOM Communications Base at Phu Lam near Saigon.
During the 1968 Tet Offensive, when Richard had been in Vietnam six months, there was a breakdown of local communications. In the early morning hours, SP5 Lacey and SP4 William Charles Behrens left Phu Lam in a jeep to reach the Regional Communications Group in Saigon to relay the many calls for help from the areas under seige. The two were never heard from again.
On February 3, 1968, SP4 Behrens body was identified at the Tan San Nhut mortuary by members of his unit. SP5 Lacey was never found, and there are no records of where Behren's remains were recovered, or who brought them to the mortuary.
Sometime between April 8th and April 15th 1968, the jeep was recovered at an unknown location. The condition of the vehicle was not noted.
Following the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements, 591 American prisoners were released from North Vietnam. Many of them had been captured in South Vietnam, but Richard Lacey was not among those released. Government officials later expressed their shock that "hundreds" more Americans that were expected to be released were not. The U.S. Government has been unable to secure the freedom of any more prisoners held in Vietnam, even though nearly 10,000 reports have been received concerning Americans still missing in Southeast Asia.
Richard Lacey's family has many unanswered questions. The most important of these is whether or not Richard is one of the hundreds many authorities believe are still captive in Southeast Asia. It's time we brought our men home.
"All Biographical and loss information on Vietnam Era POW/MIA's provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POW/NET http://www.asde.com/~pownet
|HOME OF RECORD: Two Rivers, WI
DATE OF BIRTH: Thursday, January 23, 1947
MARITAL STATUS: Married
--- Military ---
SERIAL NUMBER: 16861424
POSTHUMOUS PROMOTION AS INDICATED
PAY GRADE: E4
MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code): 26L20
Panel 35E-Row 086
Monday Feb. 5, 1968 Front Page
Two Rivers, Manitowoc GIs Killed in Action in Vietnam
In the Signal Corps of the the U.S. Army attached to Strategic Command, Spec 4 Behrens had returned to action Jan. 23, after a week's leave. He spent the leave in Hawaii and while there met his Uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hoffman, Rt. 1, Two Rivers who were vacationing there. His Parents had said that he had telephoned from Hawaii Jan 17, informing them of his week's leave and his impending return to Vietnam.
Behrens was born Jan 23, 1947 at Two Rivers. His mother is the former Sylvia Hoffman. He attended Holy Redeemer Parochial School and graduated from Washington High School in 1965.
Following his graduation he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison County Center and after working with the Hoffman Brothers, Inc. firm of Two Rivers, he enlisted in June of 1966 in the Army and was assigned to the Signal Corps.
Receiving his Basic Training at Ft Leonard, Mo, he completed a 39 week course in electronics and microwaves at Ft. Monmouth NJ. He arrived in Vietnam June 18, 1967.
Besides his parents, he leaves a sister, Kathleen, a senior at Washington High School and numerous aunts and uncles.
Funeral Services for William C. Behrens 21, son of Councilman and Mrs Elden C. Behrens of 3008 School St., Two Rivers, who was killed near Saigon, Vietnam, Jan 31, will be at 10:30 am at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, the Reverend John K. Mueller officiating. Burial will be in the Holy Cross Cemetary.
Behrens, who had been in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army, was killed by an enemy sniper bullet while driving a truck during Viet Cong guerilla infiltration of Saigon.
Richard, who was an Acting Sergeant at the time, refused me permission to go with them stating that they didn't want to babysit a kid. They were both heavily armed, and I believe William was driving. They exited the main gate of the complex, and turned left towards Saigon. They passed through Cholon (a predominantly Chinese suburb of Saigon), then onward toward the Regional Headquarters.
Enroute, they approached the Vietnamese Phu To racetrack area. It was later discovered that the cement bleacher and racetrack complex was being used as a field hospital by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. Appropriately, the enemy defended this area in a multitude of different ways, one of which was to station a machine gun crew in an abandoned 'gas station' on the road approaching their complex, and as Richard and William sped by, they were summarily attacked.
Some time later, as the area was cleared of the enemy by elements of U.S. Army Infantry, William's body was found and taken to the mortuary at Tan Son Nhut where he was eventually identified by his comrades from Phu Lam. Richard was never found, nor as I understand it, could the infantry offer any explanation as to his whereabouts, other than to speculate that he was taken prisoner. He was simply nowhere in the area.
| The following write-up is from another Phu Lamer, William Dougherty, who picked up the jeep that Richard and William were in the day they met their unknown fate. The government states they do not know where the jeep was found and what condition it was in. Strange, on how well they kept records about the real Heroes of the war. I guess they didn't care to find out. Thanks for this piece of information, William. It answered one question for us.
If my memory holds correct, we picked the jeep up the first week of April. It was located behind a villa near the racetrack, where Philco Ford civilians were living. It was bullet riddled and all removable parts from the engine had been taken. That is how I recall it.
|For those of you who closed the place down, I
remember a bell tower at the chapel placed there by the parents of the two soldiers who died there, What happened to the bell?
Yes, it was in memory of Lacey-I think the plaque said that it was purchased by his family in his memory.
|"I remember Richard Lacey very well, as he was responsible for training me
and some other guys in the basics of telephony. (My very first knowledge of
E&M signaling came from his training!) He was a very nice guy and very
On the day that they went missing, I was working day shift, and we had a lot of trouble getting into the site, because of the hostilities. We knew little about what was going on or the severity of the situation, and made it just by bumbling around. When a call came about Lacey and Behrens, Our OIC ( 1st Lt, Sternberg) was playing cards by the MDF and left the room to take the call. At that point the starkness of the situation sort of hit us all."
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