Larry Thomas Brent

Died in Vietnam

by Richard D. L. Fulton

Larry Thomas Brent was born on May 10, 1946, in Franklin Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania, to parents Logan Brent and Susan Moore Brent.

Brent had seven brothers and five sisters “surviving” him at the time of his death, according to an obituary published in the January 18, 1968, The York Dispatch

Brent graduated from Gettysburg High School as a member of the Class of 1965. Subsequently, he served for six months in the National Guard before entering the Army in June 1966. Brent undertook his basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Brent, who had achieved the designation of SP4 (Specialist 4) was assigned to the 6th Battalion, 77th Artillery.  According to, on October 15, 1966, the “6th Battalion, 77th Artillery was activated at Fort Irwin, California, as a towed-105mm howitzer battalion.”

“Towed” 105mm howitzers are lightweight field artillery that can be towed by another vehicle into action.  According to, the “105MM howitzer was the mainstay of every firebase and used in nearly every major battle of the Vietnam War.” The gun-type generally employed a crew of six for operating it.

The battalion, along with Brent, arrived in Vietnam on May 22, 1967, and “was assigned to the II Field Force, the 6/77th Artillery, and was attached to the 25th Division and based at Cu Chi,” stated.

During October 1967, Vietnam was subject to severe rain and storms.  “By the end of September and during the first weeks of October, the monsoon season had made for rough combat conditions,” according to 

October saw more than attacks from a fanatical enemy. On the home front, while the American soldiers weathered the storms, both in the form of lightning from the tempests and the bullets and incoming rounds from their artillery of the enemy, the “first national demonstration” against the war had been launched in opposition to the war, which included the Pentagon Riot of October 21, 1967.

Nevertheless, combat continued, despite supply lines having been disrupted by the severe weather. It was during the October deluge that Brent had been hit by enemy fire.

The York Dispatch reported in a story published on January 19, 1968, that Brent had been previously hospitalized during October 1967, in Vietnam, as the result of his having sustained a shrapnel wound. The newspaper noted that, after his recovery, “He returned to duty before Christmas with Battery A, Sixth Battalion, Seventy-Seventh Artillery.”

The Gettysburg Times reported on January 18, 1968, that “recovering from the October wound, he was given a rest and recreation leave over Christmas and then returned to duty.”

Regardless of when he had returned to duty, Brent was awarded the Purple Heart as a result of his injury. His mother was informed of his having received the medal in November.

Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to have made its way into the media or the public eye until the New Year, when, on January 18, 1968, The Gettysburg Times published a story under the headline, “Larry T. Brent Dies in Action Tuesday (January 16) in VN.” 

According to the story, Brent “has been killed in action in Vietnam…  Officers from the Army ROTC unit at Gettysburg College conveyed the message to the mother Wednesday evening.” 

The York Dispatch also reported on January 19 that Brent had been “killed in action (on January 16).”

However, military records seem to dispute the claim that Brent was “killed in action.” His cause of death is listed in U.S., Vietnam War Military Casualties, 1956-1998, as having been classified as “Non-Hostile – Died of Other Causes.” 

SP4 Larry Thomas Brent was laid to rest on January 24 in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Gettysburg Times reported that, “An honor guard and pallbearers were provided by a military unit from the Carlisle Barracks.” The newspaper also noted that Brent was buried “with full military honors.”

SP 4 Larry Thomas Brent

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