COZART, ROBERT GORDON JR. Remains Returned - ID Announced 01 August 1989 Name: Robert Gordon "Buster" Cozart, Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 214th Aviation Battalion, 164th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade Date of Birth: 27 March 1947 (Tuscaloosa AL) Home City of Record: Hammond LA Date of Loss: 20 March 1970 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 095900N 1062045E (XS547038) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G "Birddog" Refno: 1575 Other Personnel In Incident: James E. Butler (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: IR SAYS BOTH CREWMEMBERS KILLED SYNOPSIS: "Buster" Cozart believed a person should take full advantage of every opportunity given to him and to do his very best at it. He loved to fly and wanted to be the best. His wife described him as a happy, optimistic person of great strength of character and deep faith in God. On March 20, 1970, Capt. Robert G. Cozart, pilot, and WO James E. Butler departed Vinh Long, South Vietnam aboard an O1G (serial #51-12899) at 1016 hours on a visual reconnaissance mission over Vinh Binh Province with a stop at the Province capitol of Phu Vinh. At 1028 hours, a radio transmission was received from WO Butler advising the Team 72 Tactical Operations Center that they were airborne and en route to Tra Vinh. This was the last communication with the crew. The aircraft never landed at Tra Vinh. Upon receiving notification that the aircraft was missing, a province-wide search was initiated. All immediate search efforts were unsuccessful. Vietnamese civilians, however, reported that an aircraft had been downed in the vicinity of Tra Vinh. Local forces with U.S. advisors, U.S. troops, coastal patrol boats and light aircraft conducted extensive search efforts from March 20 through March 27. During the search efforts, one control communications set and one control radio set were located, but were never identified as positively being from Capt. Cozart's aircraft. However, they were of the sort used on the O1G. According to Butler's wife, a Vietnamese civilian had reported the crash, prompting the search in the area. Another Vietnamese civilian report indicated that the pilot of the plane (Cozart) had been killed in the crash and the Viet Cong killed or wounded the other crewman (Butler) and either took the bodies to cang Long Base area for display or threw them into the river and dismantled the aircraft. Another Vietnamese civilian report indicated that part of the plane was located but a September 21, 1970, search was aborted due to booby traps. The tail section of the aircraft was finally recovered and identified October 23, 1970. The United States Government has classified both Cozart and Butler as "Category 1," which means that there is certain evidence to indicate that the enemy forces know the fate of the Americans. In the Peace agreement signed in Paris in 1973, the Vietnamese agreed to release all American prisoners of war and account for the missing. They have not done so. The U.S. Government has named the return and accounting of Americans "highest national priority", yet has dealt with the issue with less than "high priority." On August 1, 1989, the U.S. announced that remains returned by the Vietnamese had been positively identified as those of Buster Cozart. It is has been widely known for several years that the Vietnamese maintain a large store of remains from which to select shipments to the U.S. when it is politically favorable to do so. Buster Cozart - living or dead - was a prisoner of war for nearly 20 years. Although the uncertainty his family has had to endure is now at an end, they may never know how - or when - Buster died. The fate of James E. Butler remains unknown. Evidence continues to mount that some of the nearly 2500 Americans left behind in Southeast Asia are alive, in captivity, awaiting their country to come to their rescue. If Cozart's body could be "discovered", why not that of Butler? Could he be one of the hundreds said to be still alive?