Name: Robert Ray Helle
Rank/Branch: United States Marine Corps/E3
Unit: Golf Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Mar Reg - 1st Mar Div.
Date of Birth:   22 December 1948
Home City of Record: Toledo OH
Date of Loss: 24 April 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 162600 North  1074500 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident:

Official pre-capture photo

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. Updated 2019 with information
from Justin Jackson-Mann.


SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).

Sergeant- United States Marine Corps
Captured: April 24, 1968
Released: March 16, 1973

On my last operation before capture (April 24, 1968) I was on the outside of
the village of Phu Bia. Larry Kavanaugh and I were assigned to the outer
perimeter of a helicopter lift. After the operation the helicopters picked
all up except Larry and myself. We waited for them to come back  for us ...
In the far distance we could see men running around. They started to close in
on us. They were in black pajamas and shorts ... It was the enemy ... There
were U.S. planes flying over head .... Larry fired three distress shots...
Then the Viet Cong opened fire on us. Larry fired back but my weapon
was faulty; it would not fire. It had a broken firing pin. I was shot in the
left shoulder ... it bled profusely. Shortly Larry was hit in the hand...
it blew up his magazine. He was bleeding badly . . . We were surrounded.
We  saw that capture was inevitable. I talked to Larry, saying he
had a lot to live for: he had a wife and baby (he had never seen) and
perhaps if they captured us that someday they may release us.

The irony of the story is that  in  less  than a minute after  our capture
... When we were hidden under a tree line ... our  helicopters flew over ...
they were looking for Larry and myself... They took off without seeing us...
our  hearts sank ... So started our five years as prisoners of the North
Vietnamese and as MIAs.


Robert Helle resides in Ohio.