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.