FITZGERALD, PAUL LAWRENCE, JR.

Name: Paul Lawrence Fitzgerald, Jr.   
Rank/Branch: Specialist 4th Class/US Army 
Unit: Company A, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division 
Date of Birth: 03 November 1947 
Home of Record: Ft. Valley, GA 
Date of Loss: 17 October 1967 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 112220N 1063239E (XT685575) 
Click coordinates to view maps
Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Olin Hargrove, Jr. (missing) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:  On 17 October 1967, SP4 Paul L. Fitzgerald, Jr. and PFC Olin Hargrove, Jr. were assigned as riflemen in Company A, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Their unit was participating in a search and destroy mission to locate and remove Viet Cong (VC) forces known to be operating in this region. The sector was heavily forested, well populated and hotly contested, as well as strategically located between the major cities of Saigon and Loc Ninh, Binh Long Province, South Vietnam.

As members of Company A moved through the jungle, they engaged a VC force of unknown size. In the ensuing firefight, the Americans found themselves engaged in close and heavy fighting with the enemy and suffered heavy losses. Contact was broken and their unit withdrew to set up a hasty defensive position in order to secure their dead and wounded prior to being evacuated by helicopter. At this time, SP4 Fitzgerald and PFC Hargrove were located on the south side of the perimeter, between the main body and the enemy.

Other members of their company believed that Paul Fitzgerald and Olin Hargrove became disoriented and moved in the wrong direction when the order to pull back to regroup was given. Neither man was seen to board the helicopters. One witness stated the last time he saw PFC Hargrove, he had been wounded in the back, but the extent of his wound was not known. Further, there was no indication of whether or not SP4 Fitzgerald had also been wounded during the battle.

The area of loss was approximately 5 miles due west of the primary road running between Saigon and Loc Ninh; 37 miles north-northwest of Saigon and 33 miles south of Loc Ninh. It was also 11 miles north-northwest of Lai Khe and 25 miles due east of Tay Ninh. The terrain was fairly flat and laced with rivers and waterways of all sizes flowing through it. Hamlets and villages also dotted the lush forest and small clearings.

On 18 and 19 October, a company-sized search and rescue/recovery (SAR) unit searched the entire area in an attempt to locate the missing soldiers. However, no trace of either man or their equipment was found. At the time the formal search was terminated, both Paul Fitzgerald and Olin Hargrove were listed Missing in Action.

In February 1972, a former VC soldier reported observing one American captive in 1967 in the area where the two soldiers were lost. This report was thought to possibly correlate to SP4 Fitzgerald or PFC Hargrove, and copies of the report were placed in both men's casualty file. In December 1984, US intelligence received reports about the recovery of US remains from the general area where the two soldiers were last seen. While these reports are thought to correlate to SP4 Fitzgerald and PFC Hargrove, no remains have been returned or recovered.

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 both Olin Hargrove and Paul Fitzgerald.

If Paul Fitzgerald and Olin Hargrove died in their loss incident, or due to wounds sustained in it, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if they survived, there is no question they would have been captured and their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different. Either way there is no doubt the Vietnamese could return the men or their remains any time they had the desire to do so.

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.

Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fight under 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.