A memorial service will be held later this month at the St. Francois County Courthouse in honor of the 47th anniversary of a local serviceman’s helicopter being shot down during the Vietnam War.
Warrant Officer Reginald David Cleve of Farmington and his crew of three were shot down in the Xepon District in Laos on March 22, 1971. All four were considered killed in action, despite their remains never being recovered.
Cleve was born August 2, 1947, to parents Carl and Nell Cleve and grew up on a farm near Farmington. He attended school in Farmington and was a member of the Farmington Methodist Church. He was married to Karen Pingel, daughter of Ralph and Hallie Pingel.
While pursuing a degree in engineering at the University of Missouri in Rolla, Cleve volunteered to join the United State Army. He was a member of the 176th Aviation Company, 14th Battalion, 10th Aviation Group, 23rd Infantry Division.
When Cleve and his crew were shot down, they were on a resupply mission to the Savannakhet province in Laos. Because of the heavy concentration of enemy troops in the area they were shot down in, there was no search and rescue attempt for the crew. Their official status is “killed in action-bodies not recovered, MIA.”
On March 22, the anniversary of Cleve and his crew being shot down, a memorial service will be held at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. A memorial plaque has been placed on the Memorial Wall at Columbarium C Section 8. The service will begin at 1 p.m. on March 22.
Those attending the ceremony at Jefferson Barracks are asked to gather at the park across from the cemetery no later than 12:30 p.m. The procession will then be escorted to the pavilion where the service will be held.
A memorial stone has also been placed at the St. Francois County Courthouse in Farmington. A memorial service is planned for March 24 at the courthouse.
According to Dwain Asberry with Farmington VFW Post #5896, VFW officials have worked with Cleve’s family to plan the ceremony.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on March 24 and will include a brief speech from Farmington’s VFW Commander, an invocation by a minister of the family’s choice, Sergeant First Class Bud Davis (Ret.) describing the events of Cleve being shot down, VFW District POW/MIA Chairman Joe Cerchi explaining the “POW/MIA Missing Man Table,” a volley of three shots and Taps played by a bugler from Farmington JROTC.
Invitations have also been extended to veterans who served with Cleve.
Farmington JROTC will assist with the ceremony and members of the Patriot Guard will also be present for the ceremony.