Name: Dean Calvin Spencer III 
Rank/Branch: Specialist 4th Class/US Army 
Unit: Company D, 2nd Battalion, 
12th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 
1st Cavalry Division 

Date of Birth: 3 October 1947
Home of Record: Morgantown, WV
Date of Loss: 07 January 1968 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162339N 1071810E (YD459138)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 


SYNOPSIS:  On 7 June 1968, SP4 Dean C. Spencer III was assigned as a rifleman to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. His unit was participating in a combat operation in rugged jungle covered mountains southwest of Hue City, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.

Company D was in the process of crossing the Rao Trang River in an area located in a small clearing. After SP4 Spencer crossed the river, someone yelled that his canteen had come unhooked from his gear and was floating downstream. After removing his rifle and rucksack, he jumped into the water and began swimming toward the canteen. Within a couple minutes SP4 Spencer was caught in the fast moving current and began yelling for help.

In an attempt to rescue Dean Spencer, another soldier dove into the murky water from the north side of the riverbank and immediately disappeared under the water. SP4 Spencer continued to flounder in the river's current, then disappeared beneath the surface, and was not seen to resurface.

The water depth of this portion of the river was between five and six feet, and was quite muddy. Jungle growth flourished along both banks with tree limbs and vines hanging over the winding river's edge.

A search was conducted down river for two kilometers where the second man's body was found and recovered four days later. During the search, his unit found no trace of Dean Spencer. An aerial search was also initiated, but like the ground search, found nothing. When no trace of the missing soldier was found, he was immediately declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

If Dean Spencer drowned in the Rao Trang River as believed, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all humanly possible. However, because no remains were found, there is a chance he could have surfaced out of sight of the rest of his patrol only to be captured by Communist forces known to be operating in the area. Above all else, Dean Spencer has the right not to be forgotten by the nation for which he apparently gave his life.

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.

American military men 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.