Name: Robert Larie Hilton
Rank/Branch: E4/US Air Force
Unit: 33rd Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Service Squadron
Date of Birth: 13 January 1936
Home City of Record: Baltimore MD
Date of Loss: 14 March 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 191958N 1054959E (WG875377)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: HU16B
Refno: 0272

Other Personnel in Incident: James E. Pleiman (remains recovered)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 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: The HU16 was commonly used as a rescue aircraft over the Gulf of
Tonkin, being equipped to land at sea. Besides recovering crews from coastal
waters, the Albatross was equipped to function as a radio relay station
during rescue operations. The HU16 was later replaced in rescue operations
by the HH3 helicopter which could refuel from the HC130 rescue control
aircraft, and remain on station as long as the Albatross and recover a
downed fler while hovering above him, without risking a landing and takeoff
in the open sea.

Robert Hilton and James E. Pleiman were crewmembers onboard a HU16B
"Albatross" aircraft. On March 14, 1966 the aircraft was struck by hostile
fire while conducting a rescue mission for two F4C crew members. The
aircraft went down over the Gulf of Tonkin east of Nghe An Province, North
Vietnam, and the two men were lost. (It is assumed that the rest of the crew
either was recovered safely or their bodies recovered. Their names are not
included in Air Force accounts of this incident.) The F4C Phantom crew,
fortunately, was rescued.

In December 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of James E.
Pleiman and returned them to U.S. control. Since their recovery from a
watery grave would be highly unlikely after 22 years, one can only draw one
of two conclusions - that Pleiman's body was recovered by the Vietnamese
after having washed ashore or was picked up by a Vietnamese boat in the area
- or that Pleiman escaped death and was captured. When and how Pleiman died,
and when and how the Vietnamese "discovered" his remains may have a direct
effect on the fate of Robert L. Hilton.

Since the war ended, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S.
government relating to missing Americans in Southeast Asia. Many authorities
believe that there are hundreds of Americans still captive, waiting for
their country to secure their freedom. Where is Robert Hilton? Where was
James Pleiman? Isn't it time all our men came home?