KROBOTH, ALAN JOSEPH
Name: Alan Joseph Kroboth Rank/Branch: O2/US Marines Unit: VMA 533, MAG15 Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Anthony KS Date of Loss: 07 July 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 163700N 1064750E (XD837384) Status (in 1973): Returned POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Other Personnel in Incident: Leonard Robertson (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 1 March 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2000 with an article from FORBES. Updated 2012.
REMARKS: 730327 RELSD BY PRG
SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude, carrier-based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support, all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States in aerial combat.
Capt. Leonard Robertson was the pilot of an A6A Intruder from VMA 533, Marine Air Group 15. On July 7, 1972, Robertson and his co-pilot, 1Lt. Alan J. Kroboth, were assigned a mission which took them near the DMZ. When the aircraft was near the city of Khe Sanh, it was hit by enemy ground fire and crashed. No one was thought to have survived.
In March of the following year, Alan J. Kroboth was released from POW camps in Hanoi. In his debriefing, Kroboth stated that the Viet Cong had told him that his pilot was dead. Kroboth never saw him after the crash of the aircraft.
Leonard Robertson is one of the missing on whom the Vietnamese are known to have information. If he is indeed dead, then someone knows the location of his remains. If he did not die in the crash of his aircraft, then someone has the answers to his fate.
Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy. These are men who served our country willingly. Can we afford to turn our backs on these, our best men?
Alan and his wife Pat reside in New Jersey.
===================== FORBES ASAP 10/02/00
My Heart's Content
Thirty years of one man's truth are up for reconsideration
by Pat Conroy
..... On his seventh mission as a navigator in an A-6 for Major Leonard Robertson, Al was getting ready to deliver their payload when the fighter-bomber was hit by enemy fire. Though Al has no memory of it, he punched out somewhere in the middle of the ill-fated dive and lost consciousness. .....
-------- Pat Conroy's novels include THE PRINCE OF TIDES, THE GRAET SANTIBI, THE LORDS OF DISIPLINE and BEACH MUSIC. He lives on Fripp Island, SC. This essay is from his forthcoming book, MY LOSING SEASON.
An Honest Confession by an American Coward Pat Conroy Author: Pat Conroy Source: This essay is from his book, My Losing Season. Date: November 7, 2006
Pat Conroy may think of himself as a coward for not fighting for America in Vietnam, but FSM thinks it's mighty brave of him to admit it now, in the autumn of his life. Better late than never, Pat. Let's hope your courage today serves as an inspiration to other young men yet to heed the call to defend our beloved country.
An Honest Confession by an American Coward by Pat Conroy
The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise .....
Pat Conroy's novels include The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and Beach Music. He lives on Fripp Island, South Carolina. This essay is from his forthcoming book, My Losing Season.
Subject: FW: :a Vietnam draft dodging protestor shows remorse over his
cowardly actions during the 60's
I don't know how many here have read, "My Losing Season" by author Pat
Conroy was a 1967 graduate of the Citadel who did not go into the military
after his graduation and who protested the Vietnam War. Years later, while
writing My Losing Season, he visited his Citadel basketball team teammates
from his senior year. One was Al Kroboth who had been a POW in Vietnam.
After an evening of talking with Kroboth, he penned these words which appear
in the final chapter of the book:
"In the darkness of the sleeping Kroboth household, I began to assess my
role as citizen when my country called my name and I shot her the bird.
Unlike the stupid boys who wrapped themselves in Vietcong flags and burned
the American one, I knew how to demonstrate against the war without flirting
with treason or astonishingly bad taste, having come directly from the
warrior culture of this country. But in the twenty-five years that have
passed since South Vietnam fell, I have immersed myself in the study of
totalitarianism in the unspeakable twentieth century. From The Gulag
Archipelago to the works of Simone Weil to accounts of the unimaginable
goose-stepping of the Third Reich across the borders of Germany, I have read
the histories and commentaries and eyewitness accounts of those soul-killing
events. Curious by nature, I have questioned survivors of Auschwitz and
Bergen-Belsen and talked to Italians who told me tales of the Nazi
occupation, to a Croat whose father had entertained Goering on his
honeymoon, to partisans who had counted German tanks in the forests of
Normandy, and to officers who had survived the disgraceful Bataan Death
March. I read the newspaper reports during Pol Pot's shameless assault
against his own people in Cambodia, and the rise of Saddam Hussein and
Gadhafi of Libya. I have watched the fall of Communism in Russia and have a
picture of my father pushing against the Berlin Wall during the time it was
being torn down. Many times I have quizzed journalists who reported on wars
in Bosnia, the Sudan, the Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Indonesia, Guatemala, El
Salvador, Chile, Northern Ireland, AIgeria-1 have come to revere words like
"democracy" and "freedom," the right to vote, the incomprehensibly beautiful
origins of my country, and the grandeur of the extraordinary vision of the
founding fathers. Do I not see America's flaws? Of course I do. But I now
can honor her basic, incorruptible virtues, the ones that let me walk the
streets screaming my ass off that my country had no idea what it was doing
in South Vietnam. My country let me scream to my heart's content, the same
country that produced both me and AI Kroboth.
Now, at this moment in New Jersey, I come to a conclusion about my actions
as a young man when Vietnam was a dirty word to me. I wish that I had
entered into the Marine Corps and led a platoon of Marines in Vietnam. I
would like to think I would have trained my Marines well and that the
Vietcong would have had their hands full if they entered a firefight with my
men. From the day of my birth, I was programmed to enter the Marine Corps as
a fighting man, but then my eyes locked onto the headlights of the sixties
and took me far afield of the man I was supposed to be. Now I understand I
should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done
my duty. I have come to a conclusion about my country that I knew then in my
bones, but lacked the courage to act on: America is a good enough country to
die for, even when she is wrong.
So I looked for some conclusion, a summation of this trip to my teammate's
house. I wanted to come to the single right thing, a true thing that I may
not like, but that I could live with as a man. After hearing Al Kroboth's
story of his walk across Vietnam and his brutal imprisonment in the North, I
found myself passing harrowing, remorseless judgment on myself. I had not
turned out to be the man I had once envisioned myself to be. I thought I
would be the kind of man that America could point to and say, "There. That's
the guy. That's the one that got it right. The whole package. The one I can
depend on." It had never once occurred to me that I would find myself in the
position I did on that night in Al Kroboth's house in Roselle, New Jersey:
an American coward spending the night with an American hero."
- I don't condone Conroy's actions during the Vietnam era, but I do give him
credit for eventually being honest enough with himself, about himself, to
publish those words. I don't know of anyone else who has done so.
For those here who do not know, Pat Conroy is the son of the late Col.
Donald Conroy, USMC, who commanded the Marine Aviation Detachment at
Pensacola when I was a Second Lieutenant starting flight school Col.
Conroy little known outside of the Corps by that name, but is known by
millions as Bull Meechum, "The Great Santini," from his son's book and the
movie based upon it about growing up as his father's son.