COZART, ROBERT GORDON JR.
Remains Returned - ID Announced 01 August 1989
|Name: Robert Gordon "Buster" Cozart, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 214th Aviation Battalion, 164th
Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 27 March 1947 (Tuscaloosa AL)
Home City of Record: Hammond LA
Date of Loss: 20 March 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 095900N 1062045E (XS547038)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1G "Birddog"
Other Personnel In Incident: James E. Butler (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.
REMARKS: IR SAYS BOTH CREWMEMBERS KILLED
SYNOPSIS: "Buster" Cozart believed a person should take full advantage of
every opportunity given to him and to do his very best at it. He loved to
fly and wanted to be the best. His wife described him as a happy, optimistic
person of great strength of character and deep faith in God.
On March 20, 1970, Capt. Robert G. Cozart, pilot, and WO James E. Butler
departed Vinh Long, South Vietnam aboard an O1G (serial #51-12899) at 1016
hours on a visual reconnaissance mission over Vinh Binh Province with a stop
at the Province capitol of Phu Vinh. At 1028 hours, a radio transmission was
received from WO Butler advising the Team 72 Tactical Operations Center that
they were airborne and en route to Tra Vinh. This was the last communication
with the crew. The aircraft never landed at Tra Vinh.
Upon receiving notification that the aircraft was missing, a province-wide
search was initiated. All immediate search efforts were unsuccessful.
Vietnamese civilians, however, reported that an aircraft had been downed in
the vicinity of Tra Vinh. Local forces with U.S. advisors, U.S. troops,
coastal patrol boats and light aircraft conducted extensive search efforts
from March 20 through March 27. During the search efforts, one control
communications set and one control radio set were located, but were never
identified as positively being from Capt. Cozart's aircraft. However, they
were of the sort used on the O1G.
According to Butler's wife, a Vietnamese civilian had reported the crash,
prompting the search in the area. Another Vietnamese civilian report
indicated that the pilot of the plane (Cozart) had been killed in the crash
and the Viet Cong killed or wounded the other crewman (Butler) and either
took the bodies to Cang Long Base area for display or threw them into the
river and dismantled the aircraft. Another Vietnamese civilian report
indicated that part of the plane was located but a September 21, 1970,
search was aborted due to booby traps. The tail section of the aircraft was
finally recovered and identified October 23, 1970.
The United States Government has classified both Cozart and Butler as
"Category 1," which means that there is certain evidence to indicate that
the enemy forces know the fate of the Americans. In the Peace agreement
signed in Paris in 1973, the Vietnamese agreed to release all American
prisoners of war and account for the missing. They have not done so. The
U.S. Government has named the return and accounting of Americans "highest
national priority", yet has dealt with the issue with less than "high
On August 1, 1989, the U.S. announced that remains returned by the
Vietnamese had been positively identified as those of Buster Cozart. It is
has been widely known for several years that the Vietnamese maintain a large
store of remains from which to select shipments to the U.S. when it is
politically favorable to do so. Buster Cozart - living or dead - was a
prisoner of war for nearly 20 years. Although the uncertainty his family has
had to endure is now at an end, they may never know how - or when - Buster
died. The fate of James E. Butler remains unknown.
Evidence continues to mount that some of the nearly 2500 Americans left
behind in Southeast Asia are alive, in captivity, awaiting their country to
come to their rescue. If Cozart's body could be "discovered", why not that
of Butler? Could he be one of the hundreds said to be still alive?