WILLIAM F BRICE

WILLIAM F BRICE - SGT

  • HOMETOWN:
  • dover
  • COUNTY:
  • Morris
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • May 03, 1945
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • May 27, 1968
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SGT
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


William F. Brice, Jr. was born on May 3, 1945 in Bronx, NY. His home of record is Dover, NJ. He was the second of four children. His family relocated to Dover and then Wharton where he attended St. Mary's School and graduated from Morris Hills Regional High School in 1963. Under his yearbook picture it states, "Don't let his silence fool you...in the midst of trouble he can look like an angel...a youth lighthearted and content." His nickname was Bill and his future plans were to join the Navy. An avid lover of cars especially hotrods, he worked as a mechanic prior to enlisting in the Army.

He entered the US Army in February 1967 and attained the rank of Sergeant (SGT). Brice completed his Basic Training at Fort Dix, NJ, Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Gordon, GA, and Paratrooper Training at Fort Benning, GA. He was sent to Vietnam in August of 1967.

Brice was killed in action on May 27, 1968, when an enemy rocket hit his vehicle. Military honors include: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Medal, and Paratrooper Wings.

William Francis Brice, Jr. was born in the Bronx section of New York City in 1945, to William F. and Ruth Arline Brice, Sr.. Our family moved to Dover, NJ, when we were very young (around 1950 or 51). Bill was the second of four children, Arline, William, Edward and Daniel.

Dover is about one hour due west of Manhattan. The small towns of Dover and Wharton abut each other and only a mile or two separates their centers. We lived in both towns over the years and formed many friendships through school and social events. Billy attended St. Mary's (Roman Catholic) School in Wharton. After graduating eighth grade, Billy went on to Morris Hills Regional High School in Rockaway, NJ, about five miles from Dover and Wharton. Billy did not graduate, but left school in his junior year to pursue work in the field of auto mechanics. It was not only his field of work, but his hobby too. This was a time of street hot rods, drag racing and muscle cars. Billy owned and drove a souped up 1955 Chevy that had a reputation of being a powerful machine and a winning racecar.

Billy was on the quiet side and had many friends, all of whom stay in touch with our mom even to this day. My mom is 86. His best friends included Anthony (Tony) Belmonte from Dover, Nicholas (Nicky) Patrick from Tennessee, Andre (Butter) Finnegan from Wharton, and Frank (Frankie) Poolas from Dover.

Billy was never married nor engaged, however, when Billy was killed in action and the US Army began to settle his insurances, a part of his SGLI (Serviceman's Government Life Insurance) was earmarked to go to a young woman and her child. These people were unknown to our family. She turned out to be a friend of Billy's who had a daughter by a man who wanted nothing to do with them. Billy liked them and felt sorry for their situation and helped her with finances when he could. There was no other association to my knowledge.

The Vietnam War meant the reinstitution of the draft and Billy, like myself and thousands of others, were called to duty or "drafted". Billy went through basic training, advanced training, and then on to jump school for paratroopers. He was then assigned to the 173rd Airborne Division. He and his unit were involved in many battles.

There was one very fierce firefight, which made the nightly news here in the US. As my memory serves me, it was identified as a battle for Hill 176. I do not remember the dates. Billy survived this battle and when he wrote to me he talked about how "wicked" it was.

Billy's awards and medals from his Military Service include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Paratrooper Wings. His job series (MOS) was 11D40 or Mortar Division.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. William F. Brice, two brothers, Edward and Daniel, and a sister, Mrs. John Cral, survived Brice.

Written by Edward Brice, brother

Sources: Edward Brice (brother), Morris Hills High School and NJVVMF.


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