CICHON, WALTER ALAN

Name: Walter Alan Cichon
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army
Unit: A Company, 3rd Battalion 8th Infantry, 
4th Infantry Division 

Date of Birth: 28 August 1946 
Home of Record: Farmingdale, NJ
Date of Loss: 30 March 1968 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 142321N 1074322E (YA936924) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Prisoner of War 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:  731102 PM.MM; POSSIBLY CAPT'D

SYNOPSIS:   On 30 March 1968, then SP4 Walter Cichon, rifleman, was serving in rifle company involved in an ground operation in western Kontum Province, South Vietnam. As Company A moved forward to seize a hill located in the extremely rugged jungle covered mountains just north of the town of Polei Kleng, approximately 14 miles due south of Dak To, 21 miles west of the city of Kontum and 15 miles east of the Cambodian/Vietnamese border, it triggered an enemy ambush and came under intense enemy fire.

According to surviving members of his platoon, during the chaos of battle SP4 Cichon was struck in the head by enemy fire. He was examined by other members of his company and left for dead when the Americans were forced to withdraw under heavy enemy fire.

A Graves Registration team, accompanied by a security detail, later arrived at the battle site to recover American dead. They found and extracted the bodies of all the other soldiers killed during the fierce fighting, but were unable to locate any trace of SP4 Cichon. A search and rescue (SAR) operation was immediately initiated, but found no trace of him in or around the ambush site. At the time formal SAR efforts were terminated, Walter Cichon was listed Missing in Action.

On 20 April 1968, 20 days after the ambush of Company A, two North Vietnamese Army (NVA) ralliers were undergoing a normal intelligence interrogation when they stated to US intelligence personnel they heard from friends that their battalion had captured an American with a head wound on or about 26 March in the same area where Walter Cichon disappeared. They later saw that American POW in captivity. Both ralliers gave detailed descriptions of the American prisoner. Those descriptions closely matched SP4 Cichon. Further, the ralliers stated that the POW was taken to a hospital for medical treatment in the tri-border region where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet.

Around this same time the National Security Agency (NSA), the intelligence organization charged with the responsibility of monitoring all enemy communications, intercepted at least one report that supported the ralliers' statements that Walter Cichon had in fact been captured. Further, a field investigation was conducted that included interviewing local Vietnamese. During this investigation a witness was found who confirmed that SP4 Cichon had been captured. The witness also said that he believed the American had been transferred to higher authorities. At that time Walter Cichon's status was upgraded from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War.

In April 1991 the US government released a list of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who were known to be alive in enemy hands and for whom there is no evidence that he or she died in captivity. This list, commonly referred to today as the USG's "Last Known Alive" list, included Walter Cichon.

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 America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fight 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.