Patriotic Medley

Name: Prentice Wayne Hicks
Rank/Branch: E3/US Army
Unit: Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
Date of Birth: 11 November 1947 (Milian TN)
Home City of Record: Huntsville AL
Date of Loss: 25 March 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 144018N 1073621E (YB805235)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: Frederick Herrera; Richard Roberts (both missing)

On March 25, 1969, PFC Prentice W. Hicks, PFC Frederick D. Herrera and PFC Richard D. Roberts were riflemen on a road interdiction mission northwest of the city of Kontum, South Vietnam. On March 24, their unit had been in contact with an unknown sized enemy force, and at that time, PFC Hicks had been wounded several times. The unit was ordered to pull back, and PFC Hicks was placed on a litter and carried out of the area for evacuation.

As the unit was moving toward high ground, they again came in contact with the enemy. At that time, PFC Roberts was the point man. During the contact, the unit began to move in a disorderly fashion back down the hill, and during that period, PFC Hicks, Herrera and Roberts were separated from the main element.

It is believed that PFC Herrera and Roberts had stayed behind with PFC Hicks. This was the last time they were seen. At that time, neither Herrera or Roberts were injured.

During a search of the area on April 5, a reconnaissance team found some letters belonging to PFC Hicks, along with the cover from a Bible belonging to PFC Herrera, but there was no sign of the three missing men. The three men had disappeared, and, given the enemy situation in the area, it is entirely possible that they were captured. They were declared Missing In Action. Later hearings were held to declare them dead, although no evidence was ever received that the three died.

Americans captured by the Viet Cong had a terrible and grueling ordeal ahead. The Viet Cong themselves were often deprived of adequate food, and the need to be constantly moving only made life more difficult to sustain. Americans were ill-equipped to cope with jungle diseases and drastic change in diet. Torture was commonplace and cruel. Many were mentally and physically depleted to the point of starvation and death. Towards the end of the war, prisoners captured in the south were routinely taken north for detention by the North Vietnamese, and although torture was a daily threat, few died of starvation during those late years.

Whether Herrera and the others were captured is not known. The chances of their having survived the second attack are good. Alive or dead, however, the Vietnamese certainly know their fate. Someone knows where they were taken that day.

Tragically, reports of Americans still held captive in Indochina continue to be received, creating a large body of evidence difficult to ignore. It seems clear that some of our military are still held prisoner in Southeast Asia. Herrera, Hicks and Roberts could be among them. Isn't it time we brought our men home?

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