Never Served yet Honored On The Wall

When you visit the Vietnam Memorial to pay your respects to the thousands of men and women who fought and died during the Vietnam War you will come across two inscriptions with different names that were inscribed for the same Marine,

After unsuccessfully trying to enlist in the United States Marine Corps William Francis Joyce managed to succeed on April 3 rd, 1963, by using the name of Richard Joseph Preskenis thus embarking on his destiny in Vietnam. With his assumed identity, Bill continued to serve as Richard with no one at home or in the military any wiser to his true identity. Richard continued his education and had gotten married; in fact, Richard never served in any Branch of the Armed Forces.

Serving with the 2d Force Recon Company in Camp Le Jeune, Marine Barracks in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at MCRD Parris Island, S.C. Bill Joyce was finally assigned to the Staging Battalion at Camp Pendleton California on November 25, 1965 for further transfer overseas.

On January 13, 1966 William Joyce departed MCAS El Toro California to his final destination which would land him in Da Nang, RVN on January 18, 1966 and subsequently assigned with HQ Co. Seventh Marine Regiment located in Chu Lai, RVN. Most Marines were quickly reassigned to one of the Seventh Marines subordinate units, so was Bill who got his marching orders to join Charley Co. First Battalion, Seventh Marines on February 18, 1966. Thus William Joyce, know to all as Richard Preskenis joined the Company of Marines with whom he would meet his fate on March 28th, 1966.

Information received by the Regimental Commander indicated ARVN forces were in heavy contact with the enemy south of the Chu Lai enclave. He immediately dispatched elements of the First Battalion on the morning of March 28th, to assist the friendly forces, root out and destroy the enemy. Charley Co soon found itself in the midst of a beehive sustaining heavy casualties, one of whom was William Joyce known to all as Richard Preskenis. He was evacuated from the battlefield to the 1st Medical Battalion where he was identified by personal effects and pronounced DOA.

The deception came to light when a “Pfc. Richard J. Preskenis” was listed on a Defense Department Casualty List and when his [ Preskenis ] next of kin were notified that he had died in combat in Vietnam. In fact, the real Richard Preskenis was very much alive and living in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Records were pulled at the local Draft Board which indicated that Preskenis was on active duty since April 3rd, 1963 the date Joyce enlisted in the Marines., William Joyce's record still had him listed as 4-F when in fact he had died on a battlefield in Vietnam.

After an investigation by the Marine Corps, all records of service by Preskenis were changed, as well as the Casualty report that it was indeed William Francis Joyce, who had served and died on Operation Indiana on March 28th, 1966 in the Republic of Vietnam.

Inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall



Copyright May 21, 2005, by M. Victor Vilionis

Photo: Charley Co. March 29, 1966 - Returning from Indiana - D.M. Collier D/1/7