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John David Cayce was a Seaman Petty Officer in the United States Navy when he was killed in North Vietnam (over water) on 12 November 1967. Cayce was born on 20 August 1946, and his home city of record is San Antonio, Texas. Cayce's remains have not been returned.

The Incident

Ship Fitter Petty Officer James D. Roark and Seaman Petty Officer John D. Cayce were assigned to the USS WILLIAM V. PRATT (DLG 13). On 12 November 1967, they were performing their duties as part of a helicopter detail onboard the ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. The ship was rolling in heavy seas when a 20-foot wave swept over the main deck and carried three men overboard.

The USS PRATT immediately turned to recover the men at the same time requested a helicopter from another ship to assist. One man was quickly spotted and rescued. Five additional ships and two helicopters joined the search for the remaining men. An extensive search failed to locate either Cayce or Roark.

During the period of July through September 1973, an over water/at sea Casualty Resolution Operation was conducted to determine the feasibility of expanding search operations to be used in cases such as the loss of Roark and Cayce. Based on the lack of any positive results whatsoever, the at-sea operations were terminated. It was decided that personnel lost at sea could not be recovered.

Roark and Cayce died an unfortunate accidental death. The fact that they died an accidental death in the midst of war is tragically ironic. They are listed among the missing with honor, because no body was never found to be returned to the country they served.


Biographical and incident of loss information was obtained from either POW/NET and/or Task Force Omega, Inc (unless otherwise noted). Additional information may be found via remembrances at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund or The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial.