GRANTHAM, ROBERT EUGENE
Name: Robert Eugene Grantham
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division
Date of Birth: 09 December 1951
Home City of Record: Los Angeles CA
Date of Loss: 08 March 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162319N 1070333E (YD199129)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: John D. Hale (missing)
Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.
SYNOPSIS: On March 8, 1971, 1Lt. John D. Hale, pilot, and Cpl. Robert E.
Grantham, observer, were on board an OH6A helicopter (serial #67-16645) on
an armed reconnaissance mission with an AH1G Cobra gunship and a UH1A
helicopter as a control ship. The OH6A aircraft was attempting to start a
fire on a hilltop by dropping incinerary grenades.
When 1Lt. Hale's aircraft later made a pass over the area to see if the fire
had started, it began receiving ground fire. The crew of the AH1G gunship
saw the ground fire and engaged a target while instructing Hale to break
away. Lt. Hale called after he broke away, "I'm taking fire from 3 o'clock."
The AH1G gunship then broke away from the first source of gunfire to engage
the second. At that time both the OH6A and AH1G pilots reported taking fire.
In the next radio transmission, Hale's OH6A reported that he was hit and was
going down, and asked if he was in sight. The AH1G gunship did see him and
called the UH1H control ship to confirm the sighting, but the control ship
could not spot Hale's aircraft. The gunship began dropping white phosphorous
grenades to help illuminate the area of Hale's aircraft.
At the time Hale called that he was going down, his aircraft seemed to come
apart and begin spinning, as if it had a tail rotor failure. Numerous
objects were flying out of the aircraft while it was spinning. The spinning
slowed at about 500 feet above the ground, but increased again prior to
impact. The aircraft exploded upon impact with the ground.
The chase control ship went over the crash site and hovered there, looking
for survivors, but due to the intense enemy fire, it had to leave the area.
The control ship returned, but saw no survivors on either hover. The largest
part of the aircraft that could be seen was what appeared to be the left
engine door. An electronic search was unsuccessful. No ground search was
possible because of the intense enemy activity.
Hale and Grantham went down in an area so hot that no one could go in for
them. Because of this, the U.S. believes there is a strong probability that
the Vietnamese know exactly what happened to them and to their aircraft. By
1973, aerial photographs revealed no sign of the aircraft; presumably, the
aircraft parts had been salvaged by villagers or soldiers. What of the crew?
Thousands of reports have been received concerning Americans still alive in
Southeast Asia. Clearly, the Vietnamese have a lot of information they are
not revealing. Hale and Grantham are prisoners of war - dead or alive.