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Vietnam War US Purple Heart Medal Grouping Named to MIA POW


Excellent, New Old Stock Condition

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This Purple Heart, and the other medals, were  awarded to Richard Michael Allard, 119th Assault Helicopter Co., 52nd Combat Avn Bn., 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade.

The 119th AHC was stationed at Camp Holloway, RVN. It was one of the most decorated helicopter companies in Vietnam.

Allard, who was then an Spec4, was the Crew Chief of a UH-1H Huey helicopter that crashed into a river on August 24, 1967 in Pleiku Province, RVN.  The crash happened as the helicopter was making passes to locate suspected VC walking along the riverbank that SP4 Allard had seen.

The slick had picked up some Special Forces men, a female Red Cross Donut Dolly, and an intelligence coordination team from a Special Forces Camp.

The crash was witnessed by a local ARVN Popular Force Unit. They called it in on the US radio net. A USAF Captain, who wrote about the crash and its aftermath, was monitoring the net. He was on-station flying his observation plane in the area and arrived quickly. See this site for additional photos and a complete history of the rescue operations by the USAF pilot who was first there:

A search and rescue operation was immediately carried out by USAF Para-Rescue. It was able to save many lives.

Four US Soldiers were not located and were classified MIA as no one on the helicopter or SAR mission saw them at the time of the crash or after.

Subsequent searches by US Special Forces, Local RF Units, Navy Divers and others were able to locate only the body of one Solider and the helicopter wreckage.

Three others, including SP4 Allard, were never recovered by the military despite three searches during the war and one in 1993.

Amazingly, a few days after the crash, SP4 Allard’s mother, Mrs. Phyllis Allard, received a collect phone call from someone in Cambodia who called her “Mom.” She immediately recognized the voice as her son. Mrs. Allard corroborated her story with telephone company records when she reported this to the US Army.  What, exactly, the Army did with the information is unknown. See the first Chicago Tribune article below.

In 1971, Mrs. Allard and her family were watching the news which contained various footage of US POWs being held by the Viet Cong.  She and the family recognized one of the POWs in the film as her son, Richard. The film even identified Richard M. Allard was a POW.  Mrs. Allard immediately reported her observations to the Army. What, exactly, the Army did with the information is unknown.  See the first Chicago Tribune article below.

In 1972, as Peace Talks were underway, Mrs. Allard flew to Cambodia and met with the Viet Cong & North Vietnamese at their embassy.  She told them that she knew her son was alive. They subsequently took her to see him. According to the newspaper account below, which was published in nearly 1,200 newspapers in 1973, she actually met with her son for just two minutes in an underground bunker.  She kissed him and spoke to him, but he was angry that she had endangered herself by coming to Cambodia.  She became angry at her son’s emaciated condition and yelled at his captors who threw her out after only two minutes. During her two visits to the POW camp. She saw 25 other US POWs, all of whom were in emaciated condition.  Again, Mrs. Allard immediately reported her observations to the Army. They told her that they did not believe her and would only investigate if the NVA would put the fact her som was still alive in writing.  Apparently, both the NVA and US Army told her not to discuss this trip with anyone. This was because POW exchange negotiations then were underway. See the Chicago Tribune article below.

Sadly, Richard was not amongst the US POWs exchanged in 1973 during Operation Homecoming.

SP4 Allard was not officially declared dead until 1978. Allard was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class, the rank he would have attained by then.  He was awarded this Purple Heart as a KIA. He was also awarded the air medal, good conduct medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.

The Purple Heart is engraved with his name and comes in the correct plastic case with lapel pin and separate ribbon. The original box it was received in by Mrs. Allard is also present.

The other medals are still packaged.

It is unknown how or when this Purple Heart came into collector circles. It was then only identified as a Purple Heart of a KIA whose name was on the Wall.  This scant information was typewritten on an index card. It seems the internet was not then available.

In considering why Mrs. Allard might have sold or given away these things, as his mother, she would arguably not have wanted to accept this notion and gotten rid of the physical object that manifested the Army’s version of her son’s passing. In the 1970s and 1980s many families believed their son’s were still alive and being held captive in SE Asia.  We know of no other case where a family member went to SE Asia and actually met with their POW family member.

As you can see, we did a lot of research to be able to provide these facts. We can provide similar research service.  It is possible to gather now-unclassified Army, CIA and other Agency documents on SFC Allard.

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