The Missing Man
This is a story I would work on, consider the facts, explore new
avenues, grow frustrated and then stuff it all back into a folder.
It would sink into the chaos of my desk, get shoved to the floor,
buried and churning with other fellow lost travelers, names without
stories and faces without facts. Sooner or later, it would surface,
catch my attention and get a second, then third look.
Spring cleaning comes and this time - what few facts there are get
hammered into a narrative. I am sure of a few things, archives are
usually accurate and there are reliable data points, maybe the most
significant milestones of a life but the story also advances with
educated guesses, conjecture and pure speculation.
Allan A Lagoy was a traveling child, a lucky man, a missing man and
then a lost man. Through bad luck or poor judgment, he was well
known at Regimental Headquarters and at Heidelberg for about one
week. It was the type of publicity you might want to avoid.
This is as far as I can take you in the search for one 14th Cavalry
trooper on the trails near Fladungen, in the newspaper and city
archives and in the distant recollections of other troopers. He’s
lost on the border, in the snow, the cold and darkness and may well
have been captured. We are running out of sunlight, the trails are
slick and we have a long way to go. Get in the jeeps and let’s go!
Soldier Drives Jeep into Russian Zone
7 Nov 1952 // Bad Neustad // AP
An American sergeant drove a radio equipped jeep across the zonal
border into Soviet occupied East Germany last night the United
States Army reported today.
Army authorities reported that master Sergeant Allan A Lagoy of
Guadalupe, California presumably is in Soviet hands. The Seventh
Army began an investigation to determine whether the border crossing
was accidental or intentional.
Lagoy, a member of the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment was on a
routine border patrol in the hills of the Franken forest when he
crossed over the frontier at Fladungen into soviet occupied
Thuringia province, the spokesman said.
German border police said the sergeant, driving alone headed
straight into the Soviet zone. An American spokesman said Lagoy
should have been familiar with the area.
Reds May Have U S Sergeant
8 Nov 1952 // Heidelberg // AP
US Army Headquarters said tonight that an American sergeant, absent
from his unit since Wednesday, may be in a prisoner in the Soviet
The Army announcement said that the sergeant, a member of the 14th
Armored Cavalry Regiment, was
riding in a jeep on an authorized
mission near the Hessian town of Fladungen when he disappeared.
West German border police said the sergeant, unofficially identified
as M Sgt Allan A Lagoy ( hometown unavailable ) was seen driving
across the border by two farmers and a forest worker. The German
witnesses said that two Communist People’s Police stopped and
climbed into the jeep after it had gone 300 meters into the Soviet
zone territory. The three were then seen heading for the East German
town of Melpers, about one mile from the border.
Lagoy is said to be a Korean veteran now serving his second tour in
Army authorities said the border in the Fladungen area is of a “
twisting nature and it would have been relatively easy to take a
wrong lane and end up out of the American sector. “
Soviet Held U S Soldier was ‘Threatened‘ by Captors
15 Nov 1952 // Fulda // AP
An American sergeant held by Soviet zone authorities said yesterday,
“they threatened me with disciplinary action if I refused to divulge
United States military information.“
M/ Sgt Allan A Lagoy, 29, a Korean War veteran was seized November 5
when he accidentally drove across the border while on a classified
mission in an armed and radio equipped jeep.
“I got mixed up and got lost,” he told the news conference.
The sergeant said he was exhaustively interrogated for a week until
he was unexpectedly released to the U S Army two days ago at the
East West border town of Rasdorf, twenty miles east of Fulda.
“I didn’t tell them anything, “ the sergeant said, “ except my name,
rank and serial number.“
Treated Well, Sergeant Says
16 Nov 1952 // Fulda // UP
An American Master Sergeant who was held for a week by the
Communists after he strayed into the Soviet zone said today, “ I was
treated better than I expected. “
Master Sergeant Allan A Lagoy of Guadalupe California said he was
questioned by German and Russian speaking men in uniform and was
asked questions about the American military.
He said his interrogators made a few threats but they were not too
serious. They threatened disciplinary action but did not say what
that consisted of.
“Lagoy, an Army veteran with 11 years of service including a year in
Korea was driving a jeep on Nov 5 on official business when he
became lost and blundered across the border,“ intelligence officers
said. They refused to discuss the nature of the mission.
East German authorities took him to a police station where he was
questioned and held for a few hours. He was then taken to another
location and locked in a small guarded room.
Last Wednesday, he was taken to the border and returned to American
Allan A Lagoy is Missing at the Border
In 1952, it would have been very easy to drive across the border in
that Fladungen - Melpers region. The trace between the Germans
states of Bavaria and Thuringia, which was the line of demarcation
between West and East Germany followed a very tortured path and East
German barbed wire certainly was not yet strung along every meter.
For someone unfamiliar with the region, it is plausible that a huge
error could be made. But then so many other question spring to mind
and so few answers were forthcoming.
What was he doing in the border area? To which unit was he assigned?
Was he part of a patrol or absolutely alone in the area and if so -
There are no good answers. I contacted the few retired troopers from
the Regiment who were assigned to the unit during this period and no
one recalled either Lagoy or the border crossing. It has been a lot
of years so the best we can do is fill in a few gaps and offer some
The newspapers reported that Lagoy was taken to Melpers by his
captors and assuming he crossed the border in that vicinity, this
places him in what would have been the northwestern part of the 2 -
14 ACR border area. This assumes that the 14th Cavalry divided the
border into the same sectors as the 11th Cavalry. In the late 1960s
this appears to have been the case but in 1952, your guess is as
good as mine.
And in 1952, the border mission had only just been assumed by
troopers of the 14th. The soldiers who really knew the border were
the men of the 24th Constabulary Squadron and at Bad Kissingen, it
was Troop C. The exact date that the 24th handed the mission off to
the 14th is unknown but it probably was in the late Fall of that
year. Simply stated, the troopers of the 14th ACR were not that
experienced in the border mission.
To which battalion was Lagoy assigned? If we allow that the
Fladungen region was part of the 2 - 14 border responsibility, then
unless Lagoy was really lost, he would have been in the 2nd
Battalion at Kissingen. Lagoy is not found in the 1952 yearbook
rosters for the Regiment but the narrative portion of the book stops
reporting significant events in mid Summer of that year. He simply
could have joined the unit sometime in the second half of 1952. If
he was in the 2nd battalion, his specific unit and position is
Interestingly, Allan Lagoy does appear in the 1954 14th Cavalry
yearbook, reduced in grade to sergeant and assigned to Recon Company
G, 3rd Battalion at Hersfeld. One retired officer who was with the
14th in the mid 1950s recalled that someone who had received such
significant punishment might have very easily been transferred
within the Regiment to accommodate a fresh start.
What was Lagoy’s job when he crossed the border? Looking at the unit
roosters from yearbooks in 1952 and 1954, it was not uncommon for
line recon companies to have two or even three master sergeants
assigned. One would be the unit First Sergeant, a second senior
grade slot was often listed as Training NCO or Liaison NCO. Lagoy
could have been in any of these slots and what was he doing on that
particular day in November, on the border, without a driver and
without an accompanying jeep escort is now and will remain a
Allan A Lagoy is Found in the Records
Allan Legoy was born on 18 May 1923 in Northampton Massachusetts.
His father, Louis Napoleon Lagoy, was a house painter his mother,
only seventeen at the time, gave no occupation. Together, they had
four children over the next ten years; Allan had two brothers and a
sister. The family listed various residential addresses in Vermont,
mid state New York and New York City.
At some point in the mid 1930s, the family left the northeast and
moved cross country to Guadalupe, California, a tiny seacoast town
northwest of Los Angles. There are no records of Allan Lagoy
graduating from any of the nearby high schools. As years passed, he
occasionally would list the town of Santa Maria, just a few miles
away, as his permanent home of record. He is next found upon
enlistment in the Army in October 1945.
This is curious for a few reasons. He is twenty - two at the time
and somehow, he was not drafted or had earlier joined millions of
other Americans in the enlisted ranks. In fact, when Lagoy signed on
- the war was already over although years later, he was classified
as a WWII veteran.
There is a plausible explanation for this late enlistment. If he was
working in a war effort related industry, he could have been exempt
from the draft and once the war ended, this exemption would have
been lifted. At any rate, he’s in the Army as of 1945.
Amazingly, a photo of Lagoy appears in an issue of the 1950 Pacific
Region Stars and Stripes. The rendering from microfilm is not
particularly clear but the caption certainly is legible; Master
Sergeant Lagoy is found draping his blade tank with camouflage
netting. In the Korean War era, an effective soldier could rise
through the ranks quite quickly and apparently Lagoy must have been
good at his job.
Once the barbed wire and barriers began to go up along the border in
Germany, there were numerous incidents of US personnel accidentally
blundering into East Germany and their subsequent return. Such
events were certainly considered serious but were usually worked out
within a few days. The incident at Fladungen followed the basic
pattern but was notable for both the rank of the individual and the
loss of his jeep and radio.
There was a flurry of newspaper articles in early November 1952
reporting the crossing and return of Lagoy and a photo of his post
release press conference shows him quite clearly. It appears as
though he is wearing green tabs on his epaulets, could he have been
an acting platoon leader or platoon sergeant at the time of the
The next found photo of Lagoy is a postage stamp portrait in the
1954 14th Cavalry Regiment yearbook. He is listed as a sergeant in
Troop G and then he drops from sight.
California - the Final Crossing
Lagoy is missing for the next fifteen years. Whether he continued in
the Army or separated at some point is unknown. The next hard data
point is his death in Los Angeles County in 1966 at the age of 43.
The death certificate reported that he suffered with heart disease
and there may have been a genetic component at work, one of his
brothers also died in his early 40s and none of his siblings lived
beyond 70 years. The certificate listed his final occupation as a
newspaper vendor in central Los Angeles.
His father claimed the body and he was buried at a veteran’s
cemetery in San Francisco.
A few years back, a distant relative posted the Lagoy family tree
and a few images of Allan on a genealogy web site and the lost man
was again found.