CECIL, ALAN BRUCE

Name: Alan Bruce Cecil
Rank/Branch: Specialist Five/US Army 
Unit:

Command and Control North Military Assistance Command-Vietnam, Studies and Observation Group, Special Operations Augmentation, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces 

Date of Birth: 05 September 1946
Home of Record: Holdenville, OK
Date of Loss: 21 September 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165104N 1061939E (XD414634) 
lick coordinates to view maps
Staus in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   SP5 Alan B. Cecil was assigned as the radio operator of a special operations reconnaissance team under orders to MACV-SOG. Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (though it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.

On 21 September 1969, SP5 Cecil's reconnaissance team was inserted into the rugged jungle-covered mountains approximately 60 miles west-northwest of Quang Tri, South Vietnam; 10 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), 13 miles northwest of Muang Xepon and 17 mi
les due west of the Lao/Vietnamese border, Savannakhet Province, Laos.

This area of eastern Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

As the reconnaissance team moved forward, it was ambushed by an enemy force of unknown size. In the initial burst of gunfire, SP5 Cecil and one of the indigenous team members were killed. Alan Cecil was shot in the head above the right eye. Other team members, including the team leader who was the only other American on the team, confirmed both men were not breathing. During the chaos of the firefight, the remaining team members managed to escape and evade capture and were successfully extracted later that night. However, in doing so it was necessary to leave SP5 Cecil's body behind. Because the area of loss was under the total control of communist forces, no ground search to recover Alan Cecil's remains was possible and he was immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.

Alan Cecil is among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many are known to have been alive on the ground after their loss incidents. Although the Pathet Lao publicly stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one American held in Laos has ever been released.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, 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.

US military personnel in Vietnam were called upon to undertake many dangerous missions, 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 proudly served.