01/24/19  RIP

Name: Alan Joseph Kroboth
Rank/Branch: O2/US Marines
Unit: VMA 533, MAG15
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Anthony KS
Date of Loss: 07 July 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 163700N 1064750E (XD837384)
Status (in 1973): Returned POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A
Other Personnel in Incident: Leonard Robertson (missing)

The Citadel

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 1 March 1990. Updated
by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2000 with an article from FORBES. Updated 2019.


SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude,
carrier-based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and
electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support,
all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night
interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as
DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small
precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located
and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were
credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war,
including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong
by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most
talented and most courageous to serve the United States in aerial combat.

Capt. Leonard Robertson was the pilot of an A6A Intruder from VMA 533,
Marine Air Group 15. On July 7, 1972, Robertson and his co-pilot, 1Lt. Alan
J. Kroboth, were assigned a mission which took them near the DMZ. When the
aircraft was near the city of Khe Sanh, it was hit by enemy ground fire and
crashed. No one was thought to have survived.

In March of the following year, Alan J. Kroboth was released from POW camps
in Hanoi. In his debriefing, Kroboth stated that the Viet Cong had told him
that his pilot was dead. Kroboth never saw him after the crash of the

Leonard Robertson is one of the missing on whom the Vietnamese are known to
have information. If he is indeed dead, then someone knows the location of
his remains. If he did not die in the crash of his aircraft, then someone
has the answers to his fate.

Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports
relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in
Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having
examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded
that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago
enemy. These are men who served our country willingly. Can we afford to turn
our backs on these, our best men?

Alan and his wife Pat reside in New Jersey.

FORBES ASAP 10/02/00

My Heart's Content

Thirty years of one man's truth are up for reconsideration

  by Pat Conroy

.....    On his seventh mission as a navigator in an A-6 for Major Leonard
Robertson, Al was getting ready to deliver their payload when the
fighter-bomber was hit by enemy fire. Though Al has no memory of it, he
punched out somewhere in the middle of the ill-fated dive and lost
consciousness. .....

LORDS OF DISIPLINE and BEACH MUSIC. He lives on Fripp Island, SC. This essay
is from his forthcoming book, MY LOSING SEASON.


An Honest Confession by an American Coward
Pat Conroy
Author: Pat Conroy
Source: This essay is from his book, My Losing Season.
Date: November 7, 2006

Pat Conroy may think of himself as a coward for not fighting for America in
Vietnam, but FSM thinks it's mighty brave of him to admit it now, in the
autumn of his life.  Better late than never, Pat.  Let's hope your courage
today serves as an inspiration to other young men yet to heed the call to
defend our beloved country.

An Honest Confession by an American Coward
by Pat Conroy

The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise  .....


Pat Conroy's novels include The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The
Lords of Discipline, and Beach Music. He lives on Fripp Island, South
Carolina.  This essay is from his forthcoming book, My Losing Season.


Subject: FW: :a Vietnam draft dodging protestor shows remorse over his
cowardly actions during the 60's
I don't know how many here have read, "My Losing Season" by author Pat
Conroy was a 1967 graduate of the Citadel who did not go into the military
after his graduation and who protested the Vietnam War. Years later, while
writing My Losing Season, he visited his Citadel basketball team teammates
from his senior year. One was Al Kroboth who had been a POW in Vietnam.
After an evening of talking with Kroboth, he penned these words which appear
in the final chapter of the book:
"In the darkness of the sleeping Kroboth household, I began to assess my
role as citizen when my country called my name and I shot her the bird.
Unlike the stupid boys who wrapped themselves in Vietcong flags and burned
the American one, I knew how to demonstrate against the war without flirting
with treason or astonishingly bad taste, having come directly from the
warrior culture of this country. But in the twenty-five years that have
passed since South Vietnam fell, I have immersed myself in the study of
totalitarianism in the unspeakable twentieth century. From The Gulag
Archipelago to the works of Simone Weil to accounts of the unimaginable
goose-stepping of the Third Reich across the borders of Germany, I have read
the histories and commentaries and eyewitness accounts of those soul-killing
events. Curious by nature, I have questioned survivors of Auschwitz and
Bergen-Belsen and talked to Italians who told me tales of the Nazi
occupation, to a Croat whose father had entertained Goering on his
honeymoon, to partisans who had counted German tanks in the forests of
Normandy, and to officers who had survived the disgraceful Bataan Death
March. I read the newspaper reports during Pol Pot's shameless assault
against his own people in Cambodia, and the rise of Saddam Hussein and
Gadhafi of Libya. I have watched the fall of Communism in Russia and have a
picture of my father pushing against the Berlin Wall during the time it was
being torn down. Many times I have quizzed journalists who reported on wars
in Bosnia, the Sudan, the Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Indonesia, Guatemala, El
Salvador, Chile, Northern Ireland, AIgeria-1 have come to revere words like
"democracy" and "freedom," the right to vote, the incomprehensibly beautiful
origins of my country, and the grandeur of the extraordinary vision of the
founding fathers. Do I not see America's flaws? Of course I do. But I now
can honor her basic, incorruptible virtues, the ones that let me walk the
streets screaming my ass off that my country had no idea what it was doing
in South Vietnam. My country let me scream to my heart's content, the same
country that produced both me and AI Kroboth.

Now, at this moment in New Jersey, I come to a conclusion about my actions
as a young man when Vietnam was a dirty word to me. I wish that I had
entered into the Marine Corps and led a platoon of Marines in Vietnam. I
would like to think I would have trained my Marines well and that the
Vietcong would have had their hands full if they entered a firefight with my
men. From the day of my birth, I was programmed to enter the Marine Corps as
a fighting man, but then my eyes locked onto the headlights of the sixties
and took me far afield of the man I was supposed to be. Now I understand I
should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done
my duty. I have come to a conclusion about my country that I knew then in my
bones, but lacked the courage to act on: America is a good enough country to
die for, even when she is wrong.

So I looked for some conclusion, a summation of this trip to my teammate's
house. I wanted to come to the single right thing, a true thing that I may
not like, but that I could live with as a man. After hearing Al Kroboth's
story of his walk across Vietnam and his brutal imprisonment in the North, I
found myself passing harrowing, remorseless judgment on myself. I had not
turned out to be the man I had once envisioned myself to be. I thought I
would be the kind of man that America could point to and say, "There. That's
the guy. That's the one that got it right. The whole package. The one I can
depend on." It had never once occurred to me that I would find myself in the
position I did on that night in Al Kroboth's house in Roselle, New Jersey:
an American coward spending the night with an American hero."


 - I don't condone Conroy's actions during the Vietnam era, but I do give him
credit for eventually being honest enough with himself, about himself, to
publish those words. I don't know of anyone else who has done so.
For those here who do not know, Pat Conroy is the son of the late Col.
Donald Conroy, USMC, who commanded the Marine Aviation Detachment at
Pensacola when I was a Second Lieutenant starting flight school Col.
Conroy little known outside of the Corps by that name, but is known by
millions as Bull Meechum, "The Great Santini," from his son's book and the
movie based upon it about growing up as his father's son.

Author of the notes above - unknown.


Alan J. Kroboth
Purple Heart recipient, VP of operations for Rosedale Cemeteries
Alan J. Kroboth, 71, of Roselle, N.J., died on Thursday at his home. 
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend the committal service on Monday, Jan. 28
at 11:15 a.m. in The Garden at Rosehill Crematory, U.S. Highway No. 1, Linden, N.J.
Visiting is Sunday, from 2 to 5 p.m. at August F. Schmidt Memorial Funeral Home,
139 Westfield Ave., Elizabeth, N.J. ...


Al was a USMC A-6A bombardier-navigator shot down on 7 July 1972 near Khe Sanh, south of the Demilitarized Zone. 
His pilot remains missing in action with a presumptive finding of death.  Though captured late in the war, Al suffered a
terrible ordeal during his march north.  Another American prisoner in his group died on that grueling trek.  Al remained
deathly ill for weeks after his arrival in Hanoi.  His left shoulder, shattered on ejection, never fully recovered.  Still, he
became an inspiration to everyone who knew him and his spirited sense of humor raised the morale of all around him. 
He was my cell-mate and best friend at both Plantation and the Hilton.  He passed away at home in New Jersey on
January 24 of this year. 

Author Pat Conroy (The Great Santini and Prince of Tides) devoted several pages to Al in his book, My Losing Season.  



Alan Kroboth, RIP    [RRVFPA]
Alan J. Kroboth, 71, of Roselle, N.J., died on 24 Jan 2019 at his home.

Relatives and friends were invited to attend the committal service on Monday, Jan. 28 in The Garden at Rosehill
Crematory, Linden, N.J.

He was born in Newark, N.J., and lived in Roselle most of his life. He was a decorated U.S. Marine war
veteran and a POW for nine months service during the Vietnam War. He received the Purple Heart, Combat Action
Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, Air Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal.

He was vice president of operations for Rosedale/Rosehill Cemeteries for over 40 years. He was a graduate in 1969
from the Citadel with a degree in mathematics.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia Carole Niesel Kroboth of Roselle and a son, George Kroboth.


His interment service at Arlington National Cemetery will be on Monday, August 19th, at 10:00 AM. 
Those attending can gather at the Arlington Cemetery Administrative Building at 9:00 AM.  


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