LINK, ROBERT CHARLES

Name: Robert Charles Link
Rank/Branch: W2/US Army
Unit: 17th Assault Helicopter Company, 10th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation
Group, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 10 April 1935 (Davidson County NC)
Home City of Record: Washington DC
Date of Loss: 21 April 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 161810N 1071956E (YD481033)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H
Refno: 1138

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.

Other Personnel In Incident: James E. Creamer; Larry C. Jamerson; Floyd W.
Olsen, Lyle MacKedanz, Frankie B. Johnson (all missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: On April 21, 1968, Capt. Floyd W. Olsen, aircraft commander; WO1
Robert C. Link, pilot; SP5 Frankie B. Johnson, Jr., crew chief; SP4 Larry C.
Jamerson, door gunner; SSgt. Lyle E. MacKendanz and SP4 James E. Creamer,
passengers; were aboard a UH1H helicopter (serial #66-16209) which was
flying a combat mission with other aircraft in South Vietnam.
 
The aircraft remained with the assault aircraft during most of the operation
until it was required to depart from Phu Bai, South Vietnam with rigging
equipment for a recovery from LZ Zeghel. During the flight, Capt. Olsen
acknowledged a radio transmission which stated the aircraft's secondary
mission, the recovery operation at LZ Zeghel, had been cancelled because of
the tactical situation and inclement weather conditions. Following
acknowledgement of the cancelled mission, the aircraft was lost. Although
there were several unsuccessful attempts to contact him, and ramp checks of
all airfields and camps in the area were conducted, no further contact was
made with Capt. Olsen.

On April 22, an extensive, though unsuccessful air search was conducted from
dawn until 1830 hours. On May 8, elements of the 8th ARVN Airborne Division
found the ID tags of SP5 Johnson in a 3/4-ton truck, non-U.S.  On May 25, a
UH1C gunship of the 101st Airborne Division sighted a tail boom of a crashed
helicopter. On May 26, the downed aircraft was positively identified by its
tail number by a gunship of the 17th Armored Calvary Armored Helicopter
Company.

On May 27, an on-ground inspection was conducted by Company A, 1st
Battalion, 327th Airborne Infantry. The Company found the main rotor blades
of the missing helicopter in a river bed 200 meters west of the tail boom.
The area became insecure, and a search team came under enemy fire,
curtailing search efforts prior to finding the main cabin section of the
UH1H. Further investigation revealed that the helicopter was downed due to
anti-aircraft artillery fire. Although the cabin section was not located,
and no remains were found, the families of the men were informed that all
aboard had been killed. No explanation was given as to why Johnson's dog
tags had been found in a non-U.S. truck.

In the fall of 1985, a CIA document was declassified which contained
drawings of a Viet Cong detention center which held U.S. servicemen in 1969
prior to their being sent north to Hanoi. It was located just 20 miles
southwest of Camp Eagle, a major American base near Hue, South Vietnam. In
the document were greatly detailed drawings, lists of personnel and lists of
U.S. servicemen identified from photographs. Lyle MacKedanz' name was on a
list of positively identified prisoners. Along with MacKedanz were the names
of several POWs who were released in 1973. One of them has verified the
authenticity of the report as far as the camp itself is concerned.

The MacKedanz family was given the document by a private citizen who had
obtained it through the Freedom of Information Act. They had never been told
there was even the remotest possibility that Lyle had been captured. The
Defense Department maintains that the report was a fabrication, even though
much of it has been verified by returned POWs who were held there.

The families of the men lost on the UH1H that went down that day in April
1968 want the truth. If their man is dead, they would like to know. They can
accept that. If he is one of the hundreds whom experts now say are alive,
they want him home. What they cannot accept is having the truth withheld
from them. And they cannot accept the abandonment of America's finest sons.