Report of the
Senate Select Committee
VESSEY 135 DISCREPANCY CASES
South Vietnam Daniel A. Gerber
Eleanor A. Vietti
Archie E. Mitchell
Mr. Gerber, Dr. Vietti and Mr. Mitchell were taken prisoner on May
30, 1962 while at a leprosarium near the South Vietnamese mountain
town of Banmethuot. In November 1962, documents which stated that
the three individuals captured on May 30th were killed were taken
from hostile forces 50 kilometers southwest of the leprosarium.
Mr. Gerber's passport was recovered in February 1963; missing were
pages containing his name and photograph.
The three civilians were reported captured. Returning U.S. POWs
had no information on their presence in the Vietnamese prison
Since April 1989, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center has
interviewed subjects in Vietnam concerning this incident. All
information obtained to date confirms that the three were captured
and killed because they were suspected of being American spies.
Their remains were reportedly disinterred in 1980 by unidentified
persons, and they can not now be located.
South Vietnam Donald G. Cook
On December 31, 1964, Captain Cook was serving as an advisor with
a South Vietnamese Marine battalion at Binh Gia, Phuoc Tuy
Province. His unit was hit by a large Viet Cong force, and Captain
Cook was captured. He was initially reported missing but was
confirmed a prisoner in good health by Sergeant Comacho, who was
released from captivity on July 9, 1965.
On December 2, 1965, Captain Cook joined two other U.S. POWs, Staff
Sergeant Harold G. Bennett and Private Crafts, at a Viet Cong
prison camp. They were held together at four different prison
On December 22, 1970, the Provisional Revolutionary Government
released a died in captivity list which included the name of
Captain Cook whom it stated had died of malaria on December 8,
One American POW repatriated during Operation Homecoming reported
being told by a prison guard that Captain Cook died of malaria in
December 1967 while being moved between prison camps in northern
Tay Ninh Province.
Captain Cook's name was included on the Provisional Revolutionary
Government's list of died in captivity released on January 27,
1973. In February 1980 Captain Cook was declared dead/body not
South Vietnam Kurt C. McDonald
Edward R. Dodge
On December 31, 1964, Captain McDonald, a U.S. Air Force pilot, and
Sergeant First Class Dodge, a member of the 5th Special Forces
Group, took off from Da Nang, Quang Nam Province, in an 0-1F to
conduct a visual reconnaissance mission en route to a Special
Forces camp in the A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province. They did
not arrive and were declared missing. They were last seen by
another aircraft approximately 12 nautical miles northwest of Da
Nang while flying over Quang Nam Province.
On the morning of December 31, 1964, one homer beacon was broadcast
on an emergency radio frequency, but this could not be correlated
to an NRS-8 radio set that Sergeant Dodge was carrying to A Shau to
be used in covert operations. A woodcutter reported in April 1965
that during that month he observed two U.S. POWs in Thua Thien
Province at a point on the Lao/Vietnamese border. He learned that
one of the Americans was a pilot and one was an infantryman. They
were said to have been captured in June 1964 and were being marched
off to the northwest. In 1966, a report was received from a former
North Vietnamese Army soldier identifying a photograph of Sergeant
Dodge as an inmate he saw at Hoa Lo Prison. Other reports of
sightings of Americans passing through the particular area in which
these individuals were lost were placed in their files.
Neither serviceman was ever confirmed alive in the Vietnamese
prison system. Captain McDonald was declared dead/body not
recovered in August 1982. Sergeant Dodge was declared dead/body
not recovered in October 1977.
South Vietnam James H. McLean
On February 9, 1965, Sergeant McLean was assigned as a medic with
an American advisory team working with the South Vietnamese Army's
876th Regional Force Company. He was reported captured when their
position was overrun by Viet Cong forces and was identified in
captivity by an prison escapee who stated Sergeant McLean was
suffering from malaria when last seen alive.
Sergeant McLean was carried in a POW status at the time of
Operation Homecoming. After the end of hostilities, he was
declared dead/body not recovered. Returning U.S. POWs were unable
to provide any information on his fate.
U.S. field team interviews in South Vietnam in March 1992 located
a former nurse who worked at the Phuoc Long Province hospital. She
described the arrival at her hospital of an individual
corresponding to Sergeant McLean. He arrived at the hospital in
April 1965 suffering from severe malaria. He died there
approximately ten days after his arrival. The investigation of his
loss incident is continuing.
South Vietnam Charles A. Dale
David S. Demmon
First Lieutenant Dale and Specialist 4th Class Demmon were flying
reconnaissance in an OV-1C on June 9, 1965 and were last known
located over Vinh Binh Province. They did not return from their
mission. They were initially listed as missing in action, although
U.S. intelligence began to receive reports indicating they had been
In December 1970, a prisoner identified Demmon's photograph as the
picture of an individual imprisoned in a POW camp in Kampong Cham
Province, Cambodia. This led to his reclassification from missing
in action to prisoner of war. Another report was received in March
1971 stating Demon was alive in a prison at Kratie, Cambodia in
January 1970. The source was given a polygraph, and there was no
indication of deception. Other reported sightings of unnamed
caucasians were placed in Demmon's file as possibly correlating to
him, including one in 1966 which placed him in Central Vietnam.
Demmon was carried as a POW at the end of Operation Homecoming.
Both Demmon and Dale were later declared dead/body not recovered.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on their
In March 1992, a U.S. investigating team in Vietnam attempting to
locate witnesses to the loss of the two-man crew interviewed
residents of Cuu Long Province, the new name for Vinh Binh
Province. They provided information concerning the downing of an
aircraft correlating to the OV-1C involved in this incident. Local
villagers stated that the aircraft crashed, and the bodies of the
aircraft's two occupants washed up on the shore where they were
buried by local residents. Efforts to locate their reported grave
sites have not been successful to date.
South Vietnam Walter L. Hall
Bruce G. Johnson
Fred M. Owen
Robert L. Curlee
Donald R. Saegaert
Joseph J. Compa, Jr.
Craig L. Hagen
On June 19, 1965, those involved in this loss incident were on
board a UH-1B helicopter on a combat operation into a landing zone
six kilometers from the town of Dong Xoai, Phuoc Long Province.
Their helicopter was hit by ground fire and crashed. Captain
Johnson, an advisor to the South Vietnamese Army's 5th Infantry
Division, reported to another helicopter in the area that the
aircraft's crew and all others on board were dead and his position
was receiving incoming enemy mortar fire. There was no further
transmission from Captain Johnson after the end of the mortar fire.
A later search of the area failed to produce any sign of the seven
In late 1965, a Viet Cong produced film was captured which appeared
to depict a portion of the battle at Dong Xoai. The film appeared
to show the dead bodies of Sergeant First Class Owen and First
Lieutenant Hall. Information was later received from another
source that the seven U.S. were killed in this incident, four found
in the helicopter and three others at the airstrip. Intelligence
reports of unidentified U.S. POWs sightings several months before
this incident occurred were received later and were placed in the
file of these servicemen. One report associated with the capture
of an American at the battle of Binh Gia was placed in Captain
Johnson's file, but may have correlated to the capture of another
Captain several months earlier.
Captain Johnson was initially reported missing. Returning U.S.
POWs were unable to provide information about his precise fate or
the fate of the others. Captain Johnson was declared dead/body not
recovered in February 1978.
South Vietnam Richard C. Bram
John F. Dingwall
On July 8, 1966, Staff Sergeant Bram and Gunnery Sergeant Dingwall
left their unit at Chu Lai Air Base for a hike in the surrounding
countryside. They were last seen in a local hamlet.
Local South Vietnamese police reported on July 8th that the Viet
Cong had captured and killed two Americans and then buried their
bodies. This report led to a muster of the unit and the discovery
that Sergeants Bram and Dingwall were missing. A search of the
area in which they were last seen produced hearsay information that
the two had been captured, but there was conflicting information on
their fate. They were never seen alive again, and their remains
were never located.
Both individuals were initially declared missing. In September
1978 they were declared dead/body not recovered. Returning U.S.
POWs were unable to provide any information on their survival in
captivity, and U.S. investigation teams in Vietnam have been unable
to learn anything further concerning their precise fate.
South Vietnam Fred Taylor
Henry J. Gallant
On July 13, 1965, Sergeants Taylor and Gallant were members of
Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group, with a Vietnamese
reconnaissance patrol which encountered a hostile force 18
kilometers northwest of An Khe, Pleiku Province. Surviving patrol
members reported last seeing Taylor assisting Gallant to cover as
hostile forces pressed toward them. A search of the area after the
engagement failed to locate any trace of them. They were both
declared missing in action and, in July 1966, were declared
dead/body not recovered. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to
provide any information on their final fate.
North Vietnam Charles J. Scharf
Martin J. Massucci
On October 1, 1965, First Lieutenant Massucci and Captain Scharf
were the crew of an F-4C, one in a flight of three aircraft on a
strike mission over Son La Province, North Vietnam. Their aircraft
was hit by hostile fire. After jettisoning their external tanks,
one member of the flight reported seeing one fully deployed chute
with the jettisoned material. There was no electronic contact with
the crew. Both crewmen were declared missing.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on their
precise fate. Lieutenant Massucci was declared dead/body not
recovered in February 1978. Captain Scharf was declared dead/body
not recovered in January 1978.
In January 1991, U.S. investigators in Vietnam interviewed several
witnesses to the crash of a U.S. aircraft which closely
corresponded to this loss incident. Several witnesses stated that
they observed two bodies at the crash site and had no information
that one might have survived the crash. Information from witnesses
conflicts with information from U.S. personnel at the time of their
loss who reported observing one fully deployed parachute.
South Vietnam Samuel Adams
Charles G. Dusing
On October 31, 1961, four U.S. Air Force sergeants were traveling
by bus from the coastal resort town of Vung Tau toward Saigon.
They were stopped by local Viet Cong forces and taken prisoner. On
November 2, 1965, the four sergeants attempted to escape from
custody, and Staff Sergeant Jasper N. Page was successful. He last
saw Sergeant Adams as the Viet Cong were chasing him and shooting
The status of the three was changed from missing in action to
prisoners of war. All appeared on the Provisional Revolution
Government's died in captivity list provided to the U.S. in January
1973. Their date of death was given as December 1965. The remains
of the other three sergeants have never been returned. All were
declared dead/body not recovered after the end of hostilities.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on their
In March 1992, the Joint Task Force interviewed a witness in
Vietnam who described sightings of the four servicemen shortly
after their capture at way-station B50. Information was also
received that one prisoner escaped and the remaining three
prisoners were shot. After burial, their bodies were later exhumed
and reburied at a new location which has since been deforested, and
the grave site can not be located.
North Vietnam George I. Mims, Jr.
On December 20, 1965, First Lieutenant Mims and Captain Robert D.
Jeffery were the crewmen of an F-4C in a flight of four F-4 on a
combat mission over North Vietnam. While over Ha Bac Province,
their aircraft was hit by antiaircraft fire, turned into a fireball
and fell apart. Captain Jeffery bailed out, landed safely, was
captured and was repatriated during Operation Homecoming. During
his post-release interviews, Captain Jeffery stated he never saw or
heard anything about Lieutenant Mims from the time he, Jeffery, was
captured until he was released;however, based on their loss
incident he believed Lieutenant Mims may have been killed after
ejecting at a low altitude.
Lieutenant Mims was initially declared missing in action. He was
later declared dead/body not recovered.
The Joint Casualty Resolution Center has investigated this incident
and determined that Lieutenant Mims's aircraft crashed in Huu Lung
District, Lang Son Province, and not Ha Bac Province as initially
believed. Witnesses interviewed to date have stated that one
crewman was killed in the crash of an aircraft which correlates to
this incident. The case is still undergoing field investigation in
South Vietnam James T. Egan
On January 21, 1966, Lieutenant Egan was serving as Artillery
Forward Observer with a patrol element of the 1st Force
Reconnaissance Company. Their patrol was fired upon, and after the
skirmish, Lieutenant Egan could not be located. The next day Lance
Corporal Edwin R. Grissett, Jr. (Case 0236) was also declared
missing when he became separated from the same patrol.
In April 1966, information was received that both Grissett and Egan
were captured alive from a South Vietnamese Popular Force soldier
who had just escaped from Viet Cong captivity. The soldier
asserted that Corporal Grissett told him Lieutenant Egan was
wounded and later shot by the Viet Cong. Another report was
received from a different source that an American with an
individual correlating to Corporal Grissett had been shot and
Corporal Grissett was reclassified as POW during the war, but
Lieutenant Egan was not. Neither were accounted-for at the end of
Operation Homecoming, after which both were declared dead/body not
recovered. Corporal Grissett's remains were repatriated and
identified in June 1989.
In August 1990, U.S. field investigators in Vietnam interviewed
eight witnesses concerning the capture of the two Marines. The
information they provided did not lead to the recovery of any
remains of Lieutenant Egan.
Vietnam Cecil J. Hodgson
Frank N. Badolati
Ronald T. Terry
On January 28, 1966, Sergeant First Class Hodgson and other patrol
members were on a combat patrol in the An Lao Valley, Binh Dinh
Province. They encountered a hostile force and evaded. Following
the action the three could not be located and were declared
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on the
three servicemen, and they were not reported alive in the
Vietnamese prison system. After Operation Homecoming they were
declared dead/body not recovered.
South Vietnam Donald S. Newton
On February 26, 1966, Sergeant Newton and Private First Class Wills
were members of a long range reconnaissance patrol. They departed
their patrol base on a short mission and were never seen again.
After their disappearance information was received that two U.S.
servicemen had been captured during a firefight. One was killed,
and the second, named "Newton," was found wounded and was then
Both were declared missing in action. Neither was classified as
captured. After Operation Homecoming both were declared dead/body
not recovered. Neither of their remains have been repatriated.
In August 1990, U.S. field investigators in Vietnam interviewed
witnesses in Vietnam who described the ambush of two Americans.
One was shot and killed, his body left behind on a river sandbank.
The second was taken prisoner. En route to a higher headquarters,
the Viet Cong unit found itself having to move to avoid detection
from a U.S. heliborne operation. The American prisoner, believed
to possibly correlate with Sergeant Newton, was shot and killed to
ensure the unit could move and avoid detection. A grave site of
the dead American was identified, but no remains could be located.
In March 1991, U.S. field investigators interviewed another witness
who provided generally similar information concerning the killing
and burial of an American which closely correlated to this
South Vietnam William M. Collins
Delbert R. Peterson
Robert E. Foster
On March 9, 1967, Captain Collins, Lieutenant Peterson and Staff
Sergeant Foster were part of a six-man crew providing close air
support to a Special Forces camp. Their aircraft was hit by
hostile ground fire and crash landed to the north of the A Shau
Valley in Thua Thien Province. According to survivors, enemy
small-arms fire hit and killed Foster and Collins. A-1E aircraft
struck the surrounding enemy positions. Lieutenant Peterson was
last seen moving into undergrowth. The survivors called out to
Lieutenant Peterson but received no response. Special Forces
personnel arrived later that day and found the bodies of Sergeant
Foster and Captain Collins but were unable to recover them due to
enemy activity. They could not locate Lieutenant Peterson.
Lieutenant Peterson was declared missing. Returning U.S. POWs had
no information on his fate. He was declared dead/body not
recovered in February 1978.
North Vietnam William R. Tromp
On April 17, 1966, Lieutenant JG Tromp was the pilot of an A-1E
from the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk on a night armed reconnaissance mission
over the coastal area of southern North Vietnam. A surface-to-air
missile was launched at their flight of two aircraft while over Ha
Tinh Province. Tromp's aircraft was last reported crossing the
coastline heading out to sea and descending in altitude. His last
transmission was, "I have some kind of energ...," ending in mid-
sentence. An air and sea search proved negative. He was declared
missing in action. Radio Hanoi later announced the shoot down of
several aircraft on April 17th and stated that several pilots were
captured in Quang Binh and Ha Tinh Provinces. Tromp's aircraft was
the only one lost that day.
July through September 1973, Lieutenant Tromp's under water crash
site was searched by U.S. forces testing the recoverability of
remains of U.S. airmen lost on over water losses. No remains could
be located at his crash site. In July 1974, he was declared dead,
On December 8, 1988, U.S. investigators in Vietnam met with
witnesses from the area Lieutenant Tromp had been last seen
crossing the coast. They described the shoot down of one of two
aircraft which corresponded to the circumstances of Tromp's loss.
They stated that the aircraft crashed in the sea off the coast,
there was no visible wreckage and no indication anyone had
In July 1989, U.S. investigators received additional hearsay
information about the same shoot down associated with Cam Xuyen
District, Ha Tinh Province. A refugee source in Hong Kong reported
that an aircraft had been hit by groundfire as it was descending in
altitude and that it soon burst into flames. The underwater crash
site was reportedly surveyed by Vietnamese salvage officials in
1987, but the wreck was not salvaged.
South Vietnam Jimmy M. Malone
On May 4, 1966, Private Malone was serving as a radio operator with
his unit in Tan Uyen District, Bien Hoa Province. His unit,
participating in Operation Hastings, had just completed its combat
assault and was establishing its position with Private Malone's
platoon on the unit's perimeter.
Private Malone was detailed to pick up mail from his weapons
platoon. He departed his position along a trail outside of the
perimeter but never returned. A search of the area located jungle-
boot prints believed to have been made by Private Malone. The
impression of the search party was that Private Malone had taken
the trail but had made a wrong turn away from his unit's perimeter.
The boot prints were later joined by sandal prints, and they both
led to a fortified Viet Cong position. His squad came under
hostile sniper fire during their search. The next day another
platoon swept the area and located still more foot prints
approximately 1500 meters away, but there was no trace of Private
Private Malone was declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs
had no information about him. After Operation Homecoming he was
declared killed in action/body not recovered based on a presumptive
finding of death.
In June 1984, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center received a
report about the recovery of remains in Tan Uyen District, now a
part of Song Be Province. The remains and a dog-tag were
reportedly turned over to local authorities. This report was
placed in Private Malone's file due to the coincidence in loss
On March 12, 1992, a joint U.S./Vietnamese investigation in Thu Dau
Mot District, Song Be Province, led to an interview with a former
Political Officer from the 4th Artillery Company, 3rd Battalion,
Dong Nai Regiment. The officer stated that a reconnaissance
element from his unit had killed an American in the area where
Private Malone disappeared and that he had recovered one web belt
and a .45 caliber sidearm. The soldier was part of an American
force which had just come to operate in the area. The body was
buried along a trail near a stream in the area. A helicopter later
appeared and broadcast an appeal for information about a missing
serviceman. U.S. investigator's tended to discredit the account
they were offered.
South Vietnam Bennie Lee Dexter
On May 9, 1966, Airman Second Class Dexter departed Pleiku City for
Banmethuot City by jeep. He never arrived at his destination, and
an ensuing search turned up his jeep on May 11, 1966. Local
civilians reported he had been stopped and taken prisoner. There
were wartime reports about an American POW in captivity whose
circumstances of capture were similar to that of Airman Dexter.
One report asserted that he died of starvation in February 1967.
Airman Dexter was carried in a POW status at the end of Operation
Homecoming. He was later declared dead/body not recovered.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to confirm his fate.
Joint Casualty Resolution Center field investigations in Vietnam
during April 1989 led to the interview of witnesses who described
Dexter's capture and imprisonment near Banmethuot. The same
witnesses stated that he was shot and killed during an escape
attempt and that his remains were buried nearby. U.S.
investigators were unable to locate any evidence of his grave or
South Vietnam Louis Buckley, Jr.
On May 21, 1966, Sergeant Buckley, a member of the Motor Platoon of
the 12th Cavalry, was with his unit in Binh Duong Province. His
unit came under enemy attack at Landing Zone Hereford and was
forced to withdraw. Sergeant Buckley was last seen in the area
with blood on his shirt and arm. Friendly reinforcements arrived,
but Sergeant Buckley could not be located.
He was initially declared missing in action. Returning U.S. POWs
were unable to provide any information on his fate. In January
1978, he was declared dead/body not recovered.
In October 1981, U.S. intelligence received information from a
Vietnamese refugee concerning the death of an American soldier in
the area Sergeant Buckley disappeared. It could not be
specifically correlated to Buckley.
South Vietnam William Ellis, Jr.
On June 24, 1966, Ellis was declared missing while on a combat
operation in Kontum Province. After the end of hostilities he was
declared dead/body not recovered.
In December 1990, a U.S. field team in Vietnam reported the results
of their recent field trip into the Central Highlands of South
Vietnam. During their visit, they interviewed a doctor who saw
several American POWs during 1967 or 1968 in western Kontum
Province. The doctor was aware that one African-American had died
at his hospital and that a dead American's body was preserved for
use as a medical training aid.
The doctor also stated that three Caucasian Americans died there,
and he believed they were buried nearby. These reports were
tentatively correlated to Schiele (Case 1112), Van Bendegom (0762)
and a then unidentified third Caucasian American. The report about
the African-American appeared to correlate to Ellis (0372). Other
information, possibly concerning Schiele, traced his movements from
the area of his capture to his turnover, then to the 62nd Regiment
and later to B-3 Front Headquarters.
South Vietnam Robert H. Gage
On July 3, 1966, Lance Corporal Gage and another Marine from the
1st Division left their platoon's position to find someone to do
their laundry and entered Thanh Thuy Village, which is 15
kilometers south-southeast of Da Nang City, Quang Nam Province.
When last seen, Corporal Gage was engaged in conversation with a
woman. He never returned to his platoon's position and was
declared missing. Friendly forces detained local village women on
July 3rd and 4th but were unable to obtain information on Corporal
Gage's fate. On July 5, 1966, the Marines learned that the
Corporal had actually entered a Viet Cong controlled hamlet.
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on Corporal Gage's fate. In
August 1974, he was declared killed in action/body not recovered
based on a presumptive finding of death.
North Vietnam Roosevelt Hestle, Jr.
Charles E. Morgan
On July 6, 1966, Major Hestle and Captain Morgan were crewmen in an
F-105 in a flight of four aircraft over Bac Thai Province. Major
Hestle's aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire and crashed
approximately 15 kilometers southwest of Thai Nguyen. Other
aircraft on the scene neither saw chutes nor heard beepers.
Wartime intelligence information from a People's Army prisoner
describing the capture of an African-American from an aircraft shot
down over Tam Dao Mountain was tentatively correlated to the
capture of one crewman from this crew.
Both individuals were initially reported missing in action and were
later changed to dead/bodies not recovered. In November 1970, U.S.
military intelligence received information that Major Hestle and
two other U.S. POWs were alive at a POW camp near Vinh. DIA
believed this report was not true but was the product of a highly
publicized visit by three POW wives to Vietnam early in 1970.
Returning U.S. POWs reported hearsay information that Major Hestle
was seen alive on a stretcher in a prison in Hanoi. He was not
reported alive as of 1973.
U.S. investigators in Vietnam in January 1989 located a possible
crash site associated with this incident and received hearsay
information one pilot was buried at that site. Captain Morgan's
remains were repatriated in July 1989. Vietnam turned over the
identity card of Major Hestle in October 1982, but his remains have
not been recovered.
South Vietnam Robert L. Babula
Dennis R. Carter
Robert C. Borton
John L. Bodenschatz
On August 28, 1966, the four PFCs were members of the 1st Marine
Division and were with a fire team at an ambush site ten kilometers
southwest of Da Nang City, Quang Nam Province. They failed to
return from their mission and were declared missing. On September
4, 1968, Bodenschatz' dog-tags and a partial wrist watch were
located. Local residents did not provide any information about the
fate of the four men.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information about
their fate. They were declared dead/body not recovered based on a
presumptive finding of death in November 1974.
South Vietnam Lawrence B. Tatum
On September 10, 1966, Tatum was the pilot of an A-1E which
was hit by hostile antiaircraft fire and crashed eight kilometers
north of the Rao Thanh River currently in Trung Luong District,
Quang Tri Province. A forward air controller did not observe Tatum
bail out but did hear an emergency beeper for approximately one
minute. He later observed a presumable parachute slack in the
trees on a hillside. He never saw Tatum safely on the ground. He
observed hostile forces approach the parachute and evidently pull
it out of the tree.
Tatum was initially declared missing. After Operation Homecoming
he was declared dead/body not recovered.
In April 1990 a U.S. team in Vietnam located a crash site with
material consistent with that of an A-1E, but no personal artifacts
were found. Local witnesses were unable to provide any
information. A U.S. team located information in the records of
People's Army Military Region 4 indicating that a U.S. pilot died
in a crash on the date. The place and time correlated to Tatum's
loss incident, but the pilot's name was not available.
North Vietnam John L. Robertson
On September 16, 1966, Major Robertson and First Lieutenant Hubert
F. Buchanan were in one in a flight of four F-4C aircraft on a
mission over North Vietnam. They were engaged by hostile MIG
aircraft while en route to their target. Major Robertson's
aircraft was last seen in an aerial engagement with a MIG by other
aircraft in their flight.
First Lieutenant Buchanan was captured alive and released in March
1973. During his post-release debriefing he described how their
aircraft was attacked by a MIG-17 and that he was forced to eject.
He did not have contact with Major Robertson during, or after, his
ejection. Other U.S. POWs reported being questioned about Major
Robertson on September 17th and having been told Major Robertson
Major Robertson was in MIA status as of Operation Homecoming. In
June 1978, he was declared dead/body not recovered based on a
presumptive finding of death.
In January 1987, U.S. intelligence received a report about the
wartime crash of an F-4 aircraft which appeared to correlate to
this incident. One crewman was reportedly captured, and one died
in the crash. From February through April 1990, U.S. field
investigators in Vietnam visited Hai Hung Province and interviewed
witnesses who described an aerial encounter between a U.S. jet and
a MIG aircraft. One crewman ejected and was captured. The team
visited the crash site and determined the aircraft's wreckage had
been dug up and removed to a nearby warehouse. The team was
provided a small packet of remains, allegedly from the crash site,
which were determined to be non-human. Also during April 1990,
Vietnam repatriated remains it identified as Major Robertson which
were later determined to be the skeletal remains of a large animal
(possibly a horse or cow) and a piece of non-bone material,
possibly a rock.
During November and December 1991, the site was excavated and
personal property of an individual, probably American, was
recovered and sent for analysis. Parts of the aircraft were
recovered, including a data plate, as well as possible bone
material. This case continues to undergo investigation.
South Vietnam Daniel L. Niehouse
On November 25, 1966, Mr. Niehouse, a salesman for Ford Motor
Company, was driving between Saigon and Dalat when he was stopped
and detained by Vietnamese communist forces 20 kilometers north of
the town of Xuan Loc. Three foreign civilians released from
captivity on January 1, 1967 (Thomas R. Scales, Robert W. Monahan,
Mrs. Ofelia T. Gaza) last knew Mr. Niehouse to be alive in
captivity with them. Prior to their release, Mrs. Gaza's husband
and an Australian civilian died in captivity.
Mr. Niehouse was reported missing and then captured. He was
identified by the Provisional Revolutionary Government at Operation
Homecoming as having died in captivity on April 12, 1967. His
remains have not yet been repatriated. Other returning POWs were
unable to provide information on his eventual fate.
South Vietnam Burt C. Small
On March 6, 1967, Specialist Small was assigned to Quang Ngai
Province from the 5th Special Forces Group as a member of Advisory
Detachment 108. A South Vietnamese irregular force unit (CIDG) was
ambushed, and, after the skirmish, Small was missing. A CIDG
soldier later escaped and reported that Specialist Small had been
His status was changed from missing in action to POW. After
Operation Homecoming he was declared dead/body not recovered. His
remains have never been repatriated and other returning U.S. POWs
were unable to confirm that he was alive in any of the Vietnamese
prisons in South or North Vietnam.
The Joint Casualty Resolution Center conducted field investigations
in the area of Specialist Small's capture. They received
information that Specialist Small had been captured alive and was
wounded at the time of his capture. All members of the capturing
unit are reportedly deceased.
North Vietnam John S. Hamilton
On April 19, 1967, Major Hamilton was the pilot of an A-1E, one in
a flight of two aircraft searching for two pilots downed over North
Vietnam. While over Hoa Binh Province, Hamilton was attacked by
four hostile MIG-17 aircraft, and his wingman observed pieces of
his aircraft's outer wing fly off after it was hit by cannon fire.
His aircraft crashed 24 kilometers southeast of Hoa Binh City.
Major Hamilton was not seen ejecting from his aircraft and there
was no electronic beeper heard. He was declared missing in action.
On April 19th, that same day, Hanoi radio reported the shoot down
of an American rescue aircraft over Hoa Binh Province. This
report, while not mentioning the fate of the pilot, was believed to
correlate to Major Hamilton's incident of loss.
In September 1970, a People's Army of Vietnam soldier reported two
caucasian pilots captured in Lac Thuy District in April 1968 after
being shot down in aerial combat with MIG jet aircraft. The
soldier identified a photograph of Major Hamilton as similar to one
of those captured, and the report was placed in Major Hamilton's
file as possibly relating to his capture. After Operation
Homecoming, a reevaluation of this report led to a reversal of the
wartime evaluation. It was determined that this incident actually
correlated to Major Thomas Madison and Major Thomas Sterling who
had been lost as described and who returned alive during Operation
Returning U.S. POWs had no information on Hamilton's precise fate.
In March 1979, he was declared killed in action/body not recovered
based on a presumptive finding of death.
In January 1991, a report was received about a grave with the
remains of a U.S. pilot in the area where Major Hamilton was lost.
Then, in May 1991, a source provided the rubbing of a dog-tag
associated with Major Hamilton and a bone fragment and claimed that
remains were recovered from an area near Vinh City, Nghe Tinh
Province. This is a considerable distance away from his known
crash site. In October 1991, another source visited the Joint Task
Force office in Hanoi and turned over a bone fragment and
identifying information about Major Hamilton. The source claimed
his friend found Major Hamilton's remains at another location, this
time in Quang Binh Province.