HILTON, ROBERT LARIE 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. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: 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?