Vincent Locatelli (1965/11/17)

A fellow soldier, Fred Owens, tells this story of Vincent's final battle, "Company Commander Forrest said, 'Who you got KIA?' I said, 'Locatelli.' Forrest said, 'Shit.' Locatelli was the youngest guy in the company."

Vincent Locatelli was born in Italy on March 27, 1945, to Mr. and Mrs. Adolpho Locatelli. In addition to Vincent, the Locatelli family included sons Salvatore, Adolph, John, Joseph and Mario and daughter Angela. In 1950 the family moved to Santa Cruz, California and settled into a home on Younglove Street. Vincent attended local grammar schools and later studied at Santa Cruz High School. Upon completion of his education, he found employment at the Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company, where he worked until 1963.

Vincent Locatelli was drafted into the US Army during the fall of 1963. After basic training, he was sent to Fort Carson, Colorado, for advanced training. In the early part of August 1965, he was assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion of the 5th Cavalry Regiment in the 1st Cavalry Airmobile. After a brief orientation program at Fort Benning, Georgia, his unit left for Southeast Asia on September 20, 1965.

Upon their arrival in Vietnam, the 1st Cavalry was sent to the Central Highland sector to prevent incursion by the Viet Cong and Viet regular units. Between September and November, Locatelli's unit was engaged in several combat encounters with the enemy, but none of the magnitude of the combat in the La Drang Valley.

On November 16, 1965, the 5th Regiment moved into the La Drang Valley in what was to become the first major US engagement of the Vietnam War. Along the route, the 550-yard column was brought to a halt and company commanders were ordered forward for consultation. During this period, the enemy ambushed the column in several locations. The fighting took place in three- to five-foot elephant grass that prevented either side from seeing the other and during the wild shooting melee, friendly fire casualties frequently occurred.

In the A Company sector, "Charley" as VC soldiers were dubbed, hurled grenades and on November 17, a grenade exploded near Private Vincent Locatelli taking his life. Vincent Locatelli's remains were returned to Santa Cruz and following a funeral service at Holy Cross Church, were entombed in the Holy Cross Mausoleum.

(VNMW; U of Tennessee, Fred Owens Part 1, Oral History Project,150490&_ dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL, [16 September 2008]; SCSn November 19, 1965 1:7, November 28, 1956 14:7; Cem Survey)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1960s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-LOCATELLI


Nelson, Robert L. “Vincent Locatelli (1965/11/17).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.