ROCKETT, ALTON CRAIG JR.
Remains ID announced 08/15/2007
Name: Alton Craig Rockett
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 20 January 1932
Home City of Record: Birmingham AL
Date of Loss: 02 June 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 175000N 1062700E (XE532722)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Daniel L. Carrier (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 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. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2007.
SYNOPSIS: 1Lt. Daniel L. Carrier and Capt. Alton C. Rockett Jr. were pilots
of an F4C Phantom fighter/bomber assigned a mission over North Vietnam on
June 2, 1967. The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings,
served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor,
photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast
(Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and
mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at
low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
At a point on the coast of North Vietnam's Quang Binh Province, about 5
miles north of the city of Ron, Rockett and Carrier's aircraft was shot down
and they were declared Missing in Action. unknown.
The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded the Missing in Action
classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 3. Category 3
indicates "doubtful knowledge" and includes personnel whose loss incident is
such that it is doubtful that the enemy wound have knowledge of the specific
individuals (e.g. aircrews lost over water or remote areas).
On November 20, 1989, the Vietnamese returned remains to the U.S. which were
subsequently identified as being those of Daniel L. Carrier. For his family,
there can finally be a homecoming, a funeral, and long-delayed healing.
For Rockett's family, and for thousands of others, however, conclusions
remain elusive. Over 2300 men and women are still maintained on "unaccounted
for" lists. Further, since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports have been
received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans missing in Southeast
Asia. Many authorities who have reviewed this classified material have
reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive, held
prisoner in Southeast Asia.
Whether Daniel L. Carrier and Alton Rockett were ever held prisoner of war
is unclear. What is certain, however, is that as long as there is even one
American held against his will in Southeast Asia, we owe him our very best
efforts to bring him home.
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1007-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2007
Air Force Pilot Missing From Vietnam War Is Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War,
have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full
He is Lt. Col. Alton C. Rockett, Jr., U.S. Air Force, of Birmingham, Ala. He
will be buried Monday in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On June 2, 1967, Rockett and his co-pilot, Capt. Daniel L. Carrier, crewed the
number two aircraft in a flight of two F-4Cs flying an armed reconnaissance
mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. During their bomb run,
anti-aircraft ground fire was observed, but Rockett reported that his aircraft
was not hit. When the lead aircraft completed its bomb run, the flight leader
told Rockett to return to base, but moments later, he saw a large fireball in
his rear-view mirror. He made several radio calls to Rockett, but did not hear
or see anything from the aircraft. Due to the dangerous location, there were
no further search and rescue attempts.
In June and July 1989, Vietnamese officials repatriated to the United States
sets of remains of U.S. servicemembers. The officials also supplied documents
identifying that three of the sets of remains were those of Rockett, Carrier
and another serviceman, Col. Samuel C. Maxwell. It was later discovered that
the name associations among those remains had been confused. In October and
November 1989, Maxwell and Carrier were identified after further analysis, but
the third set of remains could not be attributed to Rockett at that time.
In 1993, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) team, led by the
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated the incident and
interviewed witnesses. One Vietnamese citizen said that Rockett and Carrier
were buried near the crash site, but that their remains were exhumed in 1978
by Vietnamese officials.
In 2001, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team re-interviewed witnesses and surveyed
the burial and crash sites. Small pieces of airplane wreckage were found at
the crash site.
In 2003, a maternal-line mitochondrial DNA reference sample for Rockett was
In 2006, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team excavated the burial sites, but
recovered no human remains.
Using forensic identification tools, circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial
DNA, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory
identified Rockett's remains, which were those previously repatriated to the
United States in 1989.