Need help to find family of Quincy, MA Vietnam POW

| August 3, 2022 | 25 Comments

Command Chief Master Sergeant Peters wants to find the family of a Vietnam POW name of Robert Phillips from Quincy, MA.

The plaque pictured above was found at the site of since-closed Lockport Air Force Station in New  York

John Magnarelli, an Army veteran, brought the story of his high school friend and classmate “Bobby” to the attention of the Quincy mayor earlier this year. Last month, Phillips became the 50th name engraved on the city’s Vietnam memorial clock tower in Marina Bay.

As best as he can tell, Magnarelli said Phillips and two others were captured while delivering supplies to a base in Vietnam. He was moved around from one prisoner camp to another for months, his friend said, and attempted escape early in his captivity. More than a year and a half later, he did manage to escape before being recaptured and  possibly killed shortly after. The nonprofit POW Network reports Phillips may have been in Cambodia at the time of his death.

“His body was never recovered. And to this day, there is still no closure for his family and friends,” Magnarelli said through tears.

Phillips was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal.

On a web page run by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, dozens of people have commented on stories about Phillips and expressed gratitude for his service. One woman, who posted under the name Lisa Caruso, wrote in 2007, about the very same plaque Peters and his men found.

Her post reads:

“It was around 1973 when my mother handed me a copper bracelet reading, Pfc Robert P. Phillips. That same year, we planted a ‘Freedom Tree” in his honor. The tree is at Lockport Air Station in New York state.

About five years later, I revisited the tree, the copper bracelet [sic] still wrapped around my wrist.

I’ve traded the copper for silver and he’s been promoted to Sgt., but Robert “Bob” Paul Phillips remains in my heart and his bracelet rests beneath his photo given to me by his mother the day we planted the tree.”

That’s all she wrote, her words accompanied by a photo of a young woman and girl standing near a newly planted tree, with an unidentifiable plaque in front.

“It was around 1973 when my mother handed me a copper bracelet reading, Pfc Robert P. Phillips. That same year, we planted a ‘Freedom Tree” in his honor. The tree is at Lockport Air Station in New York state.

About five years later, I revisited the tree, the copper bracelet [sic] still wrapped around my wrist.

I’ve traded the copper for silver and he’s been promoted to Sgt., but Robert “Bob” Paul Phillips remains in my heart and his bracelet rests beneath his photo given to me by his mother the day we planted the tree.”

That’s all she wrote, her words accompanied by a photo of a young woman and girl standing near a  newly planted tree, with an unidentifiable plaque in front.

A photo posted to vvmf.org by "Lisa Caruso" in 2007 showing a tree and plaque dedicated to Staff Sgt. Robert Phillips, a North Quincy native who served in Vietnam and was taken prisoner by enemy forces in the early 1970s.
A photo posted to vvmf.org by “Lisa Caruso” in 2007 showing a tree and plaque dedicated to Staff Sgt. Robert Phillips, a North Quincy native who served in Vietnam and was taken prisoner by enemy forces in the early 1970s.

There is no indication of if Caruso knew Phillips personally, why she planted a tree in his honor, if she is still in contact with the family or any other details. Peters said he’s tried repeatedly to find her,  but to no avail.

He and others even drove to the former Lockport station to look for clues, but couldn’t find the tree shown as a sapling in the photo posted by Caruso. Last week, Peters visited Washington D.C., where he searched the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall for Phillips’ name.

“We were devastated to just find this on our base with weeds around it,” Peters said. “We have this plaque and we would love to be able to find Lisa to see what she knows, and we’d love to be able to find family. .. As a command chief, I can’t just let people disappear. We’re going to make sure this is properly taken care of.”

Mary Whitfill of the Patriot-Ledger wrote the original story.

This seems like a job for TAH. There’s at least three righteous people trying to honor one of our own, and I’m hoping someone may know or can find something of that Phillips family from  Quincy, MA or the whereabouts of Ms. Lisa Caruso.  Ms. Whitfill’s email is in the article.

 

 

 

Category: Army, Fair Winds and Following Seas, POW

guest
25 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jason
Old Arty Sgt

Give these guys a try. They have a good record of finding people. And it’s FREE. https://www.facebook.com/groups/470817289660273/

ninja

We found Robert Paul Phillips Family.

Robert Paul Phillips was born on 31 July 1951 to Jean Irene Oliver Phillips and Paul C. Phillips. The 1950 Census for Quincy, MA lists theirs names as well as Robert Paul Phillips and his two sisters, Paula and Elizabeth.

Jean Irene “Boston” Oliver Raymond’s obituary can be found at this link:

https://www.weichtfh.com/obituary/Jean-Raymond

Please note that she was preceded in death by her son Robert Phillips and that she has two living daughters, Paula (Larry) Kieffer of Angola, Indiana and Elizabeth Laverty of Cincinnati, Ohio as well as Stepsons.

Also, please note that she worked at Allis Chalmers Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Robert lists his Home of Record as Ohio.

In February 1979, someone living in Clover, York, South Carolina applied for Social Security claims for Robert Paul Phillips. Records indicate that he enlisted in the US Army on 28 December 1967 and may have been dropped from the roles on 13 February 1979.

ninja

At one time, his Stepfather, Curtis Raymond, born 16 October 1982, listed his address as 186 Riverview Ter, Clover, SC.

Curtis and Raymond were married about 1966.

He passed away in 2013:

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/atlanta/name/curtis-raymond-obituary?id=21036086

Here is a grave marker for Robert Paul Phillips in Massachusetts:

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/233657717/robert-paul-phillips

I tried to upload the picture of his grave marker, but was informed the file is too big.

ninja

In case anyone is wondering if that is the same Robert Paul Phillips..

It is.

All research matches the same SSN. The SSN is now public information. If one needs it, I can post it.

ninja

So now we know the names of Robert’s Biological Sisters:

Paula (Larry) Kieffer of Angola, Indiana and Elizabeth Laverty of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Robert’s Stepbrothers are:

Curtis (Lulia) Raymond and Daniel Raymond.

Hope this all helps.

David, recommend you touch base with the folks who are seeking Robert’s Family and provide them with that information.

ninja

BTW, Robert Paul Phillips Father was Paul Cutter Phillips.

Robert’s parents (Paul Cutter Phillips and Jean Irene Oliver) were married in New Hampshire on 16 September 1942.

Paul Cutter Phillips served in the US Army from 25 September 1942 to 2 November 1945 with the US Army Coast Artillery.

He passed away on 10 June 1989 in Broward County, Florida.

ninja

2nd attempt to post Robert Paul Phillips Gravestone in Massachusetts.

Looks as if it now works.

robert phillips 2.jpeg
MarineDad61

Reduced to 25% of original size, with Windows10 Paint

rpp79.jpeg
SKYJUMPER

So far I’ve found this info on PFC Robert Phillips, but will continue looking.
 
PHILLIPS, ROBERT PAUL

Name: Robert Paul Phillips
Rank/Branch: E2/US Army
Unit: 595th Signal Company, 36th Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Group, 1st
Signal Brigade
Date of Birth: 31 July 1949 (Quincy MA)
Home City of Record: Sylvania OH
Date of Loss: 23 June 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 110933N 1063858E (XT801340)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: 2-ton Truck
Refno: 1639
Other Personnel In Incident: James Rozo; Joe P. Pederson (missing)

Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2020.

SKYJUMPER

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: At about 1100 hours on June 23, 1970, SFC Joe P. Pederson, supply
sergeant; SP4 James M. Rozo, armorer; and Pvt. Robert P. Phillips, unit
supply specialists, all from the 595th Signal Company, left their base at
the Lai Khe Signal site for the Phuoc Vinh Signal site in a GMC 2 1/2 ton
vehicle on a supply mission. These men were updating clothing records,
retrieving excess equipment, adjusting receipts and inventorying weapons of
two outlying subunits of the 595th Signal Company.

Before leaving the Lai Khe site, Sgt. Pederson was told by three separate
individuals to go down to the “new Phuoc Vinh road”, because the “cutoff to
Ben Cat” was closed to traffic. The cutoff had been reported to be mined,
and had a high probability of ambush.

SKYJUMPER

At 1530 hours on the same day, the truck used by SFC Pederson and the two
enlisted men was discovered by ARVN and U.S. Mobile Assistance Team 33
elements in a ditch along provincial highway 7B in Binh Duong Province,
South Vietnam. The truck’s engine was still running. Initial reports
indicated that the vehicle had no major damage other than a blown tire, and
both front windshields shattered. Assorted signal equipment and supply
records were found, but there was no sign of any of the personnel in the
area. A search party found one dead Viet Cong and the three Americans’
rifles jammed, and they surmised that the men had been ambushed and
surrendered to the enemy.

In September 1970, a Viet Cong was captured who said he was part of the
ambush and he claimed that one of the men (Pederson) had been killed and
buried near the location of the incident, but that the other two had been
captured.

SKYJUMPER

The following day, the company commander of the 595th inspected the vehicle
and found 12 small calibre bullet holes, the left front tire shattered, a
small hole in the canvas top, and small metal objects in the cab. However,
there were no indications of blood.

Initially, the three men were listed Missing In Action while the government
took 15 months to determine the validity of the Viet Cong’s story. Then, in
November 1971, a captured Viet Cong told interrogators he had seen two POWs
being evacuated from South Vietnam into Cambodia. His description of the men
fit Phillips and Rozo, whom he described as tired but healthy. Their status
was quickly changed to POW. Pederson was maintained as Missing.


SKYJUMPER

In 1973, 591 American prisoners were returned home. Rozo, Phillips and
Pederson were not among them. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of the
three. Follow up reports on these three men remain classified in 1989,
although they have been officially declared “presumed dead”.

ninja

SKYJUMPER:

Thank You for the research!

We found Robert Paul Phillips family (please see our previous posts on his Mom/Dad/Stepdad, Sisters and Stepbrothers) as well as his Gravemarker in Massachusetts.

It looks as if his Mom and StepDad with either the DoD/US Army or VA declared Robert Paul Phillips deceased in February 1979 to collect VA and SSN benefits.

Rest In Peace, SSG Phillips.

SKYJUMPER

Thanks ninja for your excellent research skills.

ninja

Ditto back to you. SKYJUMPER!

We always look forever to “The Rest Of The Story” that you frequently post after Hondo shares with us about MIAs being identified.

You have the gift of putting a face and a personal touch on those who are no longer MIA.

TAH Teamwork!

Additionally, thank you for taking care of our Veterans Headstones.

Never Forget.

SKYJUMPER

ninja, I appreciate the thank you, but the credit really belongs to a very special friend of mine who started this project 3-4 years ago. She’s retired Army and has this passion for giving back to veterans.

SKYJUMPER

One note on the condition of that bronze plaque.

It needs to be scrubbed with a nylon bristle brush with water, have the letters, numbers & raised bronze features carefully sanded and then finished of with a good coat of paste wax approved for bronze.

In my opinion, it’s disrespectful to have a marker in that condition honoring a soldier who gave his life for this country.

Daisy Cutter

From the Coffelt Database of Vietnam Casualties: https://www.coffeltdatabase.org/detreq2.php

Gravesite is listed as “Not Yet Posted” so perhaps someone can provide them the link.

Prior Service

Wow. On a somber note, the above details are proof that war can get you wherever you are. On a lighter note, my theory is that the army repressed this event out of a concern that supply sergeants and hand receipt holders in general would use it as an example of why they shouldn’t have to sign their property books or so their cyclic inventories in a combat zone.

ninja

David: We found John Magnarelli’s 1967 Manet yearbook from North Quincy High School (he and Robert both were born in 1949).

We found John’s picture in the Senior section, but not Robert’s.

We are speculating that Robert’s parents divorced and that he ended up living with his Mom and Sisters in Ohio…and most likely graduated from High School in Ohio in 1967. He joined the Army in 1967. His Mom remarried around 1965-1966 to Curtis Raymond.

Additionally, we think John Magnarelli is this guy:

https://www.amazon.com/11B10-Memories-Weapons-Infantryman-Vietnam/dp/1951854284

KoB

I like to think that these Gentlemen died a Soldiers Death and took more of their enemies with them instead of being turned over to other communists that tortured them to death or enslaved them. Somebody on the other side knows something but refuse to tell us. Not knowing what happened to your loved one has got to be the worst.

Lessons learned from this story are the ones pounded into our heads by Combat Vet Drill Sergeants back in Basic in ’71. No such thing as a “limited war”. No “safe place” in a War Zone. Save the last round for yourself.

Account for them all.

A Land

Nice post sir.