BABULA, ROBERT LEO
Name: Robert Leo Babula
Rank/Branch: E2/US Marines
Unit: 1st Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division
Date of Birth: 07 March 1947
Home City of Record: Indiana PA
Date of Loss: 28 August 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 155800N 1081500E (BT061673)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: John E. Bodenschatz Jr.; Robert C. Borton Jr.;
Dennis R. Carter (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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.
SYNOPSIS: PFC Robert L. Babula, PFC Robert C. Borton Jr., PFC John E.
Bodenschatz Jr., and PFC Dennis R. Carter were members of 1st Platoon,
Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. On 28 August 1966, the four were
assigned as a fire team ambush with instructions to establish an ambush site
approximately 500 meters to the south of their platoon patrol base. This
specific location is in Hoa Hai village within grid square BT 0667.
The fire team departed at 3:00 a.m. on August 28, and were given
instructions for use of the pyrotechnics they were carrying as signaling
devices. They were further instructed to relocate in the same general area
or return to their platoon patrol base in the event their ambush site was
compromised, and finally to return no later than 9:00 a.m. that morning.
When the fire team failed to return as scheduled, an immediate search of the
area was conducted by Company K with negative results. During the period of
August 29-31, the Battalion made a dovetailed search of the entire area
covering all possible routes of egress in the event the team members had
Indigenous personnel in the area were questioned, but no evidence was
uncovered which gave any clues. Villagers were questioned and a search of
the area continued. On September 4, Company K discovered part of an American
wrist watch and PFC Bodenschatz' two identification tags in the vicinity of
BT 061673. The search was intensified in that area, including the use of
heavy engineer equipment in an effort to locate graves, but no further trace
On September 13, the Battalion cordoned off grid squares BT 0567, 0667,
0566, 0666 and all inhabitants were assembled, screened, and interrogated by
an ARVN interrogation team from Hoa Vang District Headquarters. Three Viet
Cong suspects were retained for further questioning, however, no additional
information was obtained concerning the four Marines.
The Battalion commander's final determination was that the four Marines were
In 1975, information was declassified that indicated that since the fire
team's disappearance, Marine headquarters had received two reports sighting
three to four Americans being displayed in villages south of the area in
which the fire team disappeared.
A Christmas card received by Company K/3/1 1st Marine Division, sent by
Babula's mother and sister, stated that they had recently received news that
Babula was a prisoner of war. None of the four, however, returned in the
general prisoner release in 1973.
Since the war ended, the Defense Department has received over 10,000 reports
relating to the men still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, yet concludes
that no actionable evidence has been received that would indicate Americans
are still alive in Southeast Asia. A recent Senate investigation indicates
that most of these reports were dismissed without just cause, and that there
is every indication that Americans remained in captivity far after the war
ended, and may be alive today.
The fate of the four Marines on the fire team on 28 August 1966 remains
uncertain. What is clear, however, is that it's time we learned the truth
about our missing and brought them home.