Monday, July 23, 2012

TFH 7/23: Lieutenant Colonel Andre C. Lucas, USA

Andre Cavaro Lucas was born in Washington, DC on October 2, 1930. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1948, and eventually graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point with the class of 1954, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant.

While serving as the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment - part of the 101st Airborne Division - at Fire Support Base Ripcord in South Vietnam from July 1-23, 1970, then-Lieutenant Colonel Lucas unquestionably demonstrated the best the American warrior can offer in terms of courage and leadership. His intrepid service cost him his life, and a grateful Nation bestowed upon him its highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (A-L):


Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, 2d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. place and date: Fire Support Base Ripcord, Republic of Vietnam, 1 to 23 July 1970. Entered service at: West Point, N.Y. Born: 2 October 1930, Washington D.C. Citation: Lt. Col. Lucas distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism while serving as the commanding officer of the 2d Battalion. Although the fire base was constantly subjected to heavy attacks by a numerically superior enemy force throughout this period, Lt. Col. Lucas, forsaking his own safety, performed numerous acts of extraordinary valor in directing the defense of the allied position. On 1 occasion, he flew in a helicopter at treetop level above an entrenched enemy directing the fire of 1 of his companies for over 3 hours. Even though his helicopter was heavily damaged by enemy fire, he remained in an exposed position until the company expended its supply of grenades. He then transferred to another helicopter, dropped critically needed grenades to the troops, and resumed his perilous mission of directing fire on the enemy. These courageous actions by Lt. Col. Lucas prevented the company from being encircled and destroyed by a larger enemy force. On another occasion, Lt. Col. Lucas attempted to rescue a crewman trapped in a burning helicopter. As the flames in the aircraft spread, and enemy fire became intense, Lt. Col. Lucas ordered all members of the rescue party to safety. Then, at great personal risk, he continued the rescue effort amid concentrated enemy mortar fire, intense heat, and exploding ammunition until the aircraft was completely engulfed in flames. Lt. Col. Lucas was mortally wounded while directing the successful withdrawal of his battalion from the fire base. His actions throughout this extended period inspired his men to heroic efforts, and were instrumental in saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers while inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Lt. Col. Lucas' conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, at the cost of his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit and the U.S. Army.

Lucas' name is inscribed on Panel 08W, Line 46 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He rests in peace at the cemetery at West Point.

2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry is still part of the 101st Airborne Division and is one of the two primary maneuver battalions of the 101st's 4th Brigade Combat Team. Their home post is Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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