A Currahee lost in battle, remembered in our hearts

Richard Allen Lavender

PFC Richard Allen Lavender was born on June 13, 1947 and joined the Army while in LittleRock, Arkansas. He served as an Infantryman, 11B10. On July 1, 1969, at the age of 22, PFC Lavender was killed in action in the service of our country in Thua Thien Province.

HONORS (posthumous) for Richard A. Lavender, Co B, 2nd Bn (Airmobile), 506th Airborne Infantry Rgt, 101st Airborne Division

On Memorial Day 2003 Des Plaines, IL, honored two Vietnam War dead more than three decades after they made the supreme sacrifice. The first, PFC RICHARD A. LAVENDER, was an infantryman with 2nd Platoon, Co B, 2nd Bn, 506th Inf Rgt, and 101st Airborne Div.

Six weeks after arriving in country RICK LAVENDER was KIA 1 JUL 1969 in a firefight in the A Shau Valley. His Bronze Star with “V” Device (posthumous) was awarded for his action

“…when the company’s machine gunner was seriously wounded. With complete disregard for his own safety, Private Lavender immediately picked up the wounded man’s machine gun and skillfully put forth a base of suppressive fire in order to maintain his unit’s fire superiority. His quick thinking and accurate fire aided his comrades immeasurably in maneuvering against the well-entrenched enemy. Private Lavender valiantly remained at his post until hit by enemy small arms fire.”

At home Lavender left behind a young wife, infant daughter, parents and three siblings.

And, because he had been drafted while briefly living in Arkansas where his parents had moved, his name was long linked to that state whereas he had been born, raised and educated in Des Plaines, IL. It took a two decades’ effort by a boyhood friend to add Lavender’s name to the Illinois Vietnam War Memorial. When Des Plaines officials discovered the oversight in 2002, they shared it with local veterans’ groups. And, Chapter #311 of the Vietnam Veterans of America began a project to inscribe Rick Lavender’s name on the town war memorial.

The project lasted almost a year to the day when on Memorial Day 2003 the oversight was corrected and cut into a marble tablet with twenty Vietnam deceased.

Lavender’s name and that of a Marine from the 3rd Marine Division was inscribed as well. O n 19 OCT 1966 three Marines from 2/4 went swimming in a body of water in Quang Tri province in South Vietnam not far from the South China Sea. The swimming party included Leonard J. LEWANDOWSKI JR of Des Plaines, IL; Michael J. Burke of Chicago, IL; and Richard E. Mishuk of St. Paul, MN. They disappeared and were never seen or heard from again. The doubts and the waiting by the families dragged on for years until the American Vietnam POWs came home in the early 1970s and a preliminary report was issued on those still missing. It appeared that all three young men drowned and their bodies were swept out to sea never to be recovered. Because they were “MIA” for so long, Lewandowski’s name was not included in the 1975 construction of a war memorial in his hometown.

The attachment describes the events immediately preceding and including the Memorial Day Weekend program as the yearlong project came to an end. This project was planned and implemented by Chapter #311 of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Des Plaines, IL. While it was supported by the local VFW Post #2992 and American Legion Post #36, the “soul” of the project belonged to the Vietnam veterans.

Brian J. Mulcrone

President, Chapter #311, Vietnam Veterans of America

Remembered by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2992 and the American Legion Post 36, and his hometown of Des Plaines, IL.


Combat Infantry Badge506th Unit Crest



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