AVERY, ROBERT DOUGLAS
Name: Robert Douglas Avery
Rank/Branch: United States Marine Corps/O2
Unit: VMFA 533 MAG 12
Date of Birth:18 December 1941
Home City of Record: Morgantown NC
Date of Loss: 03 May 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 164658 North 1070157 East
Status (in 1973): Presumptive Finding of Death
Other Personnel in Incident: Thomas Clem
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File, and Senate Select Committee Hearings. 2020
REMARKS: DID NOT RETURN FROM MISSION
Capt. Avery was part of the A6A aircrew. Radar contact was lost after
leaving the target area of Quang Binh, 10 miles south of Quang Kue.
No further information available at this time.
Senate Select Committee Report:
North Vietnam Robert D. Avery
Thomas D. Clem
On May 3, 1968, Avery and Clem were the crew in an A-6A on an armed
reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam providing support to U.S.
Air Force operations along Route Package 1. Radar contact was lost
with the aircraft when it was approximately 10 kilometers northwest
of the coastal town of Dong Hoi and six kilometers southeast of the
district seat of Bo Trach in Quang Binh Province. SAR forces were
unable to locate any sign of the crew which was declared missing.
Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any information on the
eventual fate of the crew. After Operation Homecoming they were
declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a
presumptive finding of death.
In January 1991, a U.S. team in Vietnam visited Bo Trach District
and reviewed archival documents. One document listed the downing
of an A-6A on May 3, 1968 in which both crewmen died. In July
1991, U.S. researchers at the Military Region IV museum in Vinh
City obtained access to an archival list of gravesites of Americans
who died there during the war. One entry listed Robert D. Avery as
buried in Quang Ninh District from an F-105 downed on April 15,
1968. In January 1992, a Region IV air defense record listed an A-
6A downed on May 3, 1968 with both crewmen dead. In December 1992,
a copy of the list of burial sites was turned over by Vietnam to
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on
Notes from The Virtual WallOn 03 May 1968 Captain Thomas D. Clem, pilot, and Captain Robert D. Avery, bombardier/navigator, were conducting an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam along Route Package 1. Radar contact with their A-6A aircraft (BuNo 154164) was lost when it was approximately 10 kilometers northwest of the coastal town of Dong Hoi and six kilometers southeast of the district seat of Bo Trach in Quang Binh Province. SAR forces were unable to locate any sign of the aircraft or crew.
The two men were declared missing. The North Vietnamese did not claim them as captured, and the returning U.S. POWs had no knowledge of them. The Secretary of the Navy eventually approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the two men (Clem on 22 Jul 1974, Avery on 4 Sep 1974), changing their status to killed in action, body not recovered.
In the early 1990's, U. S. teams reviewing archival documents in Vietnam came across three documents related to Clem and Avery:
"In 1995, nearly three decades after Avery's plane disappeared, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese team was probing the coast of Vietnam for another airplane, part of a continuing effort to locate unaccounted- for veterans. On a narrow, sandy plain near a row of scrub pines, they found a brackish-water- filled crater they would later confirm as the crash site of an A-6A. The pilot of that plane was Lt. Thomas Dean Clem. His friend and crew mate was Robert Douglas Avery."The article quotes LTC Jerry O'Hara, a spokesman for the Joint Task Force, as saying that
"We know we had the right aircraft. We found personal effects. We found crew materials. We found human remains [but they] have no DNA potential."As of 20 Feb 2004 the government has not announced the positive identification of either Avery's or Clem's remains.