LANCASTER, KENNETH RAY

Name:  Kenneth Ray Lancaster
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army
Unit:  Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 
Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, 
9th Infantry Division 




Date of Birth: 24 June 1946 (Washington, DC)
Home of Record: Silver Springs, MD
Date of Loss: 03 January 1968 
Country of Loss:  South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates:  122655N 1085844E (BP804769)
Click coordinates to view maps




Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  UH1H "Iroquois"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   On 3 January 1968, then SP4 Kenneth R. Lancaster was a team leader of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team operating in the dense triple-canopy jungle covered mountains of Khan Hoa Province, South Vietnam. Their mission included locating, identifying and reporting on Viet Cong (VC) activity. This area was well known as a hotbed of communist activity. After successfully completing their mission, the patrol was being extracted by helicopter from a designated pickup point approximately 7 miles south-southwest of Duc My, 11 miles east-southeast of Ninh Hoa and 19 miles northwest of Nha Trang.

About one minute after takeoff, a member of the team saw then SP4 Lancaster hanging onto the right skid of the Huey as the aircraft continued to gain altitude for its return flight to base. The pilot was informed of the situation and requested to make an emergency landing immediately. When it became apparent the pilot was not able to land due to the jungle and rugged terrain below, members of the team and aircrew quickly prepared to lower a rope to Kenneth Lancaster. However, before the rescue attempt could be made, the team leader fell from the skid of the Huey from an altitude of 1000 to 1500 feet.

The area in which Lancaster fell had heavy vegetation and a triple canopy jungle, creating a slim possibility that the trees and heavy vegetation could have broken his fall. Immediately search and rescue (SAR) efforts were initiated. The area of loss was searched visually from the air that day, then again on 7 and 8 January by American and indigenous platoons on the ground. Unfortunately, a thorough search of the area was limited because the exact location of loss could not be pinpointed.

The dense jungle and heavy enemy activity in it further hampered the SAR effort. Regardless of these restrictions, US intelligence believed there was a high probability that the communists knew the fate of SP4 Lancaster, and could account for him whether he was alive or dead. When no trace of the team leader could be found, Kenneth Lancaster was listed Missing in Action.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military personnel in Vietnam were call upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.