|This page is dedicated to
Sgt. Arlie Mangus and his family.
I had the pleasure of meeting his family
and honoring him at The Moving Wall.
Sgt. Arlie Mangus was born on 2/16/51 in Kittanning, PA
which is also my mom's hometown.
This is the sad story explaining why Sgt. Mangus and
the rest of the crew of LCU 63 never came home.
On the afternoon of November 2, 1970, Sgt. Dennis I. Day, Sgt. Richard C. Dority, Sgt.
David L. Ginn, Sgt. Perry C. Kitchens, Sgt. Arlie R. Mangus, Sgt. Jerry D. Martin, SSgt.
Calvin A. Norris, Sgt. James R. Pantall, SFC John D. Shewmake, Sgt. David W. Woods,
and PFC Billie Hammond Peeples were the crew of a landing craft, LCU #63, which
departed Da Nang en route to Tan My, South Vietnam on a resupply mission. The LCU
was a heavy craft able to carry large loads of ammunition.
At 1010 hours on November 3, 1970, helicopter pilots sighted the craft capsized about 5
nautical miles south of Tan My port. In an initial search by air/sea rescue, however, no
sign of the crew of the LCU were observed. There was no apparent hostile action, and
the reason for the incident is unknown.
On November 6, the remains of Billy H. Peoples were recovered near Cu Loi Island, fully
rigged in a life jacket. During the period of December 4-20, attempts were made to
salvage the craft and locate the crew. Divers gained access to all compartments and
voids of the craft, but no survivors or evidence of remains were found. Pieces of
clothing, small arms ammo, cans and a radio were recovered.
On March 16, 1977, the body of Perry Kitchens was returned to U.S. control and
subsequently positively identified. There has been no word of the rest of the crew. The
missing eight men were all presumed to have drowned, and the U.S. Army believes there
is no chance to ever recover the eight men missing from LCU-63.
There are several discrepancies in the case of LCU-63 which should be noted. First of all,
the U.S. Army, the State Department and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Directory lists
all the crew except Peeples as Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, or Sergeant First Class, which
are ranks one grade above those listed by Defense Department and Joint Casualty
Resolution Center records. The lower grades are listed as follows: Ginn, Martin, Pantall,
Peeples - E3 or PFC; Day, Dority, Kitchens, Mangus and Woods - E4 - which can be either
Corporal or SP4; Norris - E5 or Sergeant; Shewmake - E6 or Staff Sergeant.
Secondly, the Memorial Directory lists the entire crew with the exceptions of Peeples
and Kitchens as missing on 4 November 1971 (a year and a day later than all other
records). Third, the military occupational specialties of all 10 men on whom information
can be gathered are classified.
It was not uncommon for promotions to be given during the period between the time
personnel went missing and the time they were declared dead. This group is classified
as having had "non-hostile, died while missing" deaths, leading one to assume that for a
brief time, at least, they were declared missing, so that it might be possible to have
attained a grade increase during that period. It is uncommon, however for grade
increases to be given to those whom are considered dead and non-recoverable. It was
also uncommon for a group of 18 and 19 year-olds, as was most of this crew, to attain
the rank of sergeant.
Strange things have been known to happen regarding missing men. One pilot was
declared dead because his aircraft exploded close to the ground. Later, the pilot, who
had ejected in a cloud of smoke, and landed on the ground even before his parachute
was fully deployed, was released from POW camp. One Marine, Ronald Ridgeway, was
declared dead and actually "buried" in a mass grave in the United States with other men
from the same action, only to come home from POW camp in 1973. Mistakes were
made, and errors in judgment occurred.
Given that the LCU sank with no witnesses, and sank in the proximity of an island, it is
imaginable that the crew could have survived to be captured. This could be said to be
supported by the fact that Peeples was found fully outfitted in his life jacket. It is, of
course, only conjecture.
Tragically, thousands of reports have been received that indicate Americans are still
being held captive in Southeast Asia. Whether the LCU crew is among them is certainly
not known, but they could be. The evidence suggests that hundreds are alive, waiting for
their country to free them. Itâ€™s time we got answers.
Salvaging LCU 63