NOPP, ROBERT GRAHAM

Name: Robert Graham Nopp
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: 131st Aviation Company (see note in text)
Date of Birth: 19 September 1934 (Velva ND)
Home City of Record: Salem OR
Loss Date: 14 July 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 144000N 1063700E (XB740219)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1C
Refno: 0393

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: Marshall F. Kipina (missing)

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: On July 14, 1966, PFC Marshall Kipina, observer/airborne sensor
operator; and Capt. Robert G. Nopp, pilot flew out of hu Bai Airbase at Hue
in an OV1C aircraft (serial #612675) on a classified surveillance mission
over Laos.  The company flew under code names "Steel Tiger" and "Tiger
Hound". Their call sign was "Iron Spud" that night.

The Grumman OV1C maintained surveillance using infrared detection equipment
and a forward-aimed camera, making it a valuable night surveillance plane
able to detect enemy movement and designate and confirm targets. It was on
such a mission that Kipina's plane vanished with no trace.
 
Although the official data listing loss coordinates is located in Laos,
about 25 miles southwest of the city of Attopeu, there is considerable doubt
as to the exact location of the crash. The target area was in a region of
Laos code named "Golf", east of Attopue, Laos. Source data seems to indicate
that the crash may have occurred east of that point, in the mountains.
During the searches for the missing aircraft, a parachute was sighted,
hanging from a tree, containing a decapitated body. No attempts were made to
recover the body, because of the fear of booby traps, and the hostile
environment. JCRC later determined the body to be, in fact, a dummy, and not
one of the missing crew members.
        
In April 1969, CIA compiled a very detailed description of the Viet Cong
Huong Thuy District committee headquarters together with details of a prison
camp about 20 miles away. The document included maps of the facility as well
as information on many of the communist staff, including names, backgrounds
and jobs performed. Also in the document were lists of 22 American POWs who
were positively identified from pre-capture photographs and a list of 32
Americans tentatively identified. The source stated that following the Tet
offensive, prisoners were transferred either to North Vietnam or to an
agricultural camp at an unknown location near the border of Laos. On the
list of positive identification was the name of Marshall Kipina.

This report is among many received by the U.S. concerning American POWs.
Since the end of the war, the U.S. has received nearly 6000 of them. Defense
Intelligence Agency debunked this information, saying the source couldn't
know the information. The families of those listed were never told of the
report until it surfaced in the private sector, having been declassified, in
1985.

It is not known whether Nopp and Kipina may be among the hundreds who are
still alive as prisoners in Southeast Asia, or if they are dead. Their
families deserve to know every detail of their loss, and every detail that
surfaces that relates to them, however remote. And, as long as even one man
is alive, we must do everything possible to secure his freedom and bring him
home.



NOTE: The 20th Aviation Detachment existed until December 1966, at which
time it was reassigned as the 131st Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation
Battalion (Combat Support). The 131st Aviation Company had been assigned to
I Corps Aviation Battalion since June 1966, when it arrived in Vietnam. In
August 1967, the 131st Aviation Company was reassigned to the 212th Aviation
Battalion where it remained until July 1971, whereupon it transferred out of
Vietnam.

There were a large number of pilots lost from this unit, including Thaddeus
E. Williams and James P. Schimberg (January 9, 1966); John M. Nash and Glenn
D. McElroy (March 15, 1966); James W. Gates and John W. Lafayette (April 6,
1966); Robert G. Nopp and Marshall Kipina (July 14, 1966); Jimmy M. Brasher
and Robert E. Pittman (September 28, 1966); James M. Johnstone and James L.
Whited (November 19, 1966); Larry F. Lucas (December 20, 1966); and Jack W.
Brunson and Clinton A. Musil (May 31, 1971). Missing OV1 aircraft crew from
the 20th/131st represent well over half of those lost on OV1 aircraft during
the war.

U.S. Army records list both Nopp and Kipina as part of the "131st Aviation
Company, 14th Aviation Battalion", yet according to "Order of Battle" by
Shelby Stanton, a widely recognized military source, this company was never
assigned to the 14th Aviation Battalion. The 131st was known as
"Nighthawks", and was a surveillance aircraft company.