Spence, Richard Bruce
Grove City, PA
U.S. Army – Vietnam
“I didn’t know the gun was loaded.”
That pathetic excuse takes on a whole new dimension when the “gun” is a recoilless rifle, a seven foot long anti-tank weapon that fires a high-explosive round that is nearly three inches in diameter.
On January 11, 1970, the D Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division were cleaning their weapons at their base in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam. One of the crew members, not knowing his recoilless rifle was loaded, accidentally fired it. The ensuing explosion killed four soldiers, including PFC Richard Bruce Spence of Grove City. This happened just twelve days after PFC Spence had arrived in Vietnam.
After graduating from Grove City High School in 1968, Richard B. Spence completed an airline school course in Hartford, Connecticut. He worked at La Guardia Airport in New York until he joined the army in July, 1969.
He completed basic and advanced individual training as a crew member on a recoilless rifle, which is essentially a long tube that fires an explosive anti-tank round. Slated to go to Vietnam, he spent a 22-day furlough with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard A. Spence, during the 1969 Christmas Holiday. PFC Spence left Grove City on December 28 and arrived in Vietnam on December 30.
He was posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Panel 14W Line 028