ROBINSON, LEWIS MERRITT
Remains identified 04/16/99
Name: Lewis Merritt Robinson
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Unit:
Date of Birth: 01 February 1921
Home City of Record: Saginaw MI
Date of Loss: 04 June 1967
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161558N 1064259E (XC834990)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1E
Refno: 0722
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 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 1998.
REMARKS:
SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable,
propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or
utility aircraft. The E model generally carried two crewmen. The A1 was
first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first
Air Commando Group engaged in counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam,
and later used in a variety of roles, ranging from multi-seat electronic
intelligence gathering to Navy antisubmarine warfare and rescue missions.
The venerable fighter aircraft was retired in the spring of 1968 and had
flown in more than twenty model variations, probably more than any other
U.S. combat aircraft.
LTCOL Lewis M. Robinson was the pilot of a Spad sent on a mission which took
him over Saravane Province, Laos on June 4, 1967. When the aircraft was
about 25 miles south of the South Vietnamese city of Khe Sanh, it was struck
by enemy fire and crashed.
LTCOL Robinson was declared Killed/Body Not Recovered. The fate of the
second crewman, if there was one, is unknown. Because of the tactical
situation in this area, the U.S. Air Force believes the enemy may know
details about the fate of LTCOL Robinson.
Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos during the war in Vietnam. Although
the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions they held "tens of tens" of
American prisoners, Laos was not included in the agreements ending American
involvement in the war, and the U.S. has not negotiated for the freedom of
these men since that day. Consequently, not one American held in Laos has
ever been released.
There is no solid proof that Lewis Robinson died the day his Spad went down.
As a participant in missions over Laos, he was undoubtedly warned that he
could be killed or captured. He may not have dreamed he would be abandoned.

    No. 057-M
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS   April 16, 1999
The remains of six American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from
the war in Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to
their families for burial in the United States.
        They are identified as Air Force Capt. Dean A. Wadsworth,
        Clarendon, Texas; Marine SSgt. Harold E. Reid, Salt Lake City,
        Utah; Navy Lt. David L. Hodges, Chevy Chase, Md.; Air Force Lt.
        Col. Lewis M. Robinson, Saginaw, Mich.; Air Force Capt. Douglas
        K. Martin, Tyler, Texas; and Air Force Capt. Samuel L. James,
        Chattanooga, Tenn.
On Oct. 8, 1963, Wadsworth and his South Vietnamese crewman were
flying their T-28B Trojan on a combat support mission approximately 50
miles southwest of Da Nang, South Vietnam.  As he completed his bombing
run over the target, his aircraft broke apart in mid air, crashed and
exploded, as reported by another pilot on the mission.  A massive search
and rescue operation was initiated that day by two Marine helicopters
but they disappeared during the mission.  At dawn on the following day,
Marine heli copters airlifted two companies of South Vietnamese
infantrymen to the area of the downed aircraft.  As the helicopters
landed, enemy troops fired on them, wounding three Marine crewmen and
killing a Vietnamese soldier.
Two T-28s, B-26s and a South Vietnamese A-1 aircraft responded
by strafing enemy positions.  An American L-19 light observation
aircraft directing the strike was hit, the Vietnamese observer was
wounded, and the aircraft made a forced landing.  Meanwhile, the
Vietnamese ground troops found both Marine helicopters that had
disappeared on the first day.  Ten bodies were recovered, but two remain
missing in action to this day.  In the days during the search and rescue
operations, 207 missions were flow n, three aircraft were lost and four
others damaged.  Fifteen South Vietnamese soldiers were killed and seven
were wounded.
In late 1993, a Vietnamese local turned over remains he said
were recovered near the crash site.  In May of the following year, a
joint U.S./Vietnamese team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting,
visited the area of the crash, interviewed villagers and obtained some
aircraft debris and pilot-related equipment.  In September, another
joint team examined the crash site and found more debris, but no
remains.  Then in May 1995, another team excavated the site where they
found remains, as well as two identification tags of Wadsworth.
On Sept. 13, 1967, Reid completed his tour guarding an
observation post near a river in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.
Before dawn, he crossed the bridge to visit a friend on the south side
of the river.  He was never seen again. A joint U.S./Vietnamese team in
August 1993 interviewed local informants who claimed to have buried an
American Marine who had been shot by the Vietcong near the river.  The
informants stated that the body had been moved and re-buried at another
location, but the team could not locate it.  In September 1995, another
team interviewed other informants, but obtained little information.
Then in April 1996, a third team excavated the reported burial site
about 1,000 meters from the southern end of the bridge where they found
remains as well as material evidence and personal equipment.
On Oct. 7, 1967, Hodges was leading a strike mission near Hanoi,
North Vietnam when his A-4E Skyhawk was struck by an enemy
surface-to-air missile.  His wingman reported receiving a radio
transmission from the lieutenant that his engine had flamed out.  As the
wingman watched, Hodges' burning aircraft rolled to the right, entered a
steep dive, and crashed.  No parachute was sighted and no emergency
beeper signals were heard.  Because of enemy control of the area, there
was no search and rescue missi on mounted.
Acting on information obtained from Vietnamese wartime documents, a
joint U.S./Vietnamese team interviewed villagers in July 1995 who
claimed to have visited the site shortly after the crash and buried the
pilot.  But the crash crater had been filled with dirt to allow farming,
so the team found no evidence of a crash.  But the following April,
another team mounted an excavation at the site where they did recover
remains, a wristwatch fragment, pilot-related items and aircraft
wreckage.  Later, in S eptember 1996, a third team continued the
excavation and found additional remains among the wreckage.
Robinson was flying his A-1E Skyraider on a close air support mission
over Saravane Province, Laos, on June 4, 1967, when he was struck by
enemy ground fire.  His aircraft pitched up abruptly, struck the wing of
another aircraft, went into an inverted spin and crashed amid an
explosion.  None of the other pilots in the flight reported seeing a
parachute nor hearing emergency beeper signals.  Hostile threats in the
area prevented air or ground searches of the crash site.
In early 1988, representatives of the Laotian government turned over
remains to the U. S. Joint Casualty Resolution Center, the unit leading
joint recovery operations in Southeast Asia at the time.  A joint
U.S./Lao team traveled to the area of the crash site in November 1993,
interviewed villagers, surveyed the area and recovered skeletal
fragments, aircraft wreckage and pilot-related equipment.  Then in
January 1998, a second joint team excavated the site and recovered more
remains and personal equipment.
Martin and James were flying a forward air control mission over Cambodia
on April 18, 1973, when they descended below a 6,000-foot layer of haze
in their F-4E Phantom.   They radioed they had the target in sight, but
their wingman was unable to maintain visual contact.  He asked Martin
and James to give him an automatic direction-finder signal but there was
no response.  On several passes over the target, the wingman noted fires
and explosions near the target area.  There were no parachutes sighted,
nor emergency beeper signals.  Enemy activity in the area prevented a
ground search, but aerial reconnaissance the following day noted
aircraft debris at the site.
In 1993, 1995 and 1997, three joint U.S./Cambodian teams developed leads
through interviews with local villagers and surveys of the crash site.
The informants noted that the crash site had been heavily scavenged and
that remains had been present at one time.  Then in January 1998, a
joint team excavated the site where they found remains amid numerous
pieces of aircraft wreckage. Anthropological analysis of the remains and
other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory,
Hawaii confirmed the identification of all six of these servicemen.
With the accounting of these six, there are now 2,063 Americans
unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.  Since the release of American
POWs in 1973, 520 MIAs from Southeast Asia have been accounted-for and
returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of
the governments of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's
Democratic Republic, and the Kingdom of Cambodia that resulted in the
accounting of these servicemen.  We hope that such cooperation will
bring increased results in the future.  Achieving the fullest possible
accounting for these Americans is of the highest national priority.
-END-