ELLIOT, ROBERT MALCOLM Remains Returned 12/27/99
Name: Robert Malcolm Elliot Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand Date of Birth: 08 November 1929 Home City of Record: Springfield MA Date of Loss: 14 February 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205400N 1055800E (WH988945) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D Refno: 1049 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
REMARKS: SEVERAL IRS INDICATE CAPTURE
Source: Compiled 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 in 1998.
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Robert M. Elliot was assigned to the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Airbase in southern Thailand. On Valentine's Day 1968, Elliot was the pilot of an F105D fighter jet assigned a combat mission near Hanoi, North Vietnam.
The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing capability and ECM pods for the wings. While the D version was a single-place aircraft, the F model carried a second crewman which made it well suited for the role of suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses.
Eighty-six F-105Ds fitted with radar homing and warning gear formed the backbone of the Wild Weasel program, initiated in 1965 to improve the Air Force's electronic warfare capability. Upon pinpointing the radar at a missile site, the Wild Weasel attacked with Shrike missiles that homed on radar emissions. The versatile aircraft was also credited with downing 25 Russian MiGs. Thirteen of these modified F's were sent to Southeast Asia in 1966.
Capt. Elliot's Thunderchief was number two in a flight of four. The flight was to make successive runs on their target near Hanoi. As Elliot was pulling off the target during one of his planned runs, his aircraft was hit by hostile fire. He radioed that he was hit, but the rest of the flight did not see any parachute or hear emergency beeper signals indicating that he was able to eject from the aircraft. Elliot was declared Missing in Action.
The Air Force was careful not to declare Elliot dead unduly, even though no evidence existed to indicate that he survived. Early in the war, pilots had been declared dead because of the grim circumstances surrounding the crash of their aircraft, only to turn up in the prison systems of North Vietnam. Indeed, several intelligence reports were received that indicated Elliot had been captured, although outside confirmation of this fact was apparently never made.
Elliot is among many Americans on whom information is almost certainly held by the Vietnamese, but the Vietnamese continue to deny knowledge of him or of his fate. As reports mount convincing many authorities that Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia, held captive by our long-ago enemy, one must wonder if one of those said to be still alive is Robert Elliot. He may not know that he has been promoted to the rank of Colonel. What must he be thinking of us?
No. 195-M MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS December 27, 1999
The remains of an American serviceman previously unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial in the United States.
He is identified as Air Force Colonel Robert M. Elliot of Springfield, Mass.
On Feb. 14, 1968, Elliot was flying his F-105D Thunderchief on a strike mission over Hanoi, North Vietnam, when he was hit by a surface-to-air missile. He radioed to the other pilots in the flight that he had been hit and they witnessed his crash. None of the other pilots saw any ejection attempt nor heard any emergency beeper signals, but one reported seeing a streaming (unopened) parachute at approximately 3,000 feet.
In April 1988, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam turned over remains to the United States that they attributed to Elliot. Returned with those remains was his military identification card. Then in 1992, Vietnam provided to U.S. officials several documents related to U.S. losses during the war. One entry was for Elliot. The description indicated that he died from his injuries.
In 1994, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese team interviewed residents of the province where Elliot's plane crashed. They took the team to the spot where they had buried his remains in 1968 and subsequently turned them over to their government for repatriation to the United States.
With the accounting of Elliot, 2,031 servicemen are missing in action from the Vietnam War. Another 552 have been identified and returned to their families since the end of the war. Analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed the identification of Elliot.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that resulted in the accounting of this serviceman. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the highest national priority. -END-
-------------------------- The Boston Globe Wednesday, December 29, 1999
31 YEARS LATER, HER PREMONITION IS CONFIRMED Vanessa Parks, GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
On Valentine's Day in 1968, Billie Elliot's heart was broken.
She awoke that morning with the oddest feeling that her husband, Robert, had come to see her, to tell her he was gone. Her daughter, Julie, was crying, having felt it, too.....