KIRKSEY, ROBERT LOUIS
Name: Robert Louis Kirksey
Rank/Branch: E3/US Army
Unit: Company D, 46th Engineer Battalion
Date of Birth: 17 December 1945 (Thomaston AL)
Home City of Record: Mobile AL
Date of Loss: 01 January 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 102107N 1070603E (YS304444)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: PFC Robert Kirksey was assigned to Company D in the 46th Engineer
Battalion in Vietnam. On the morning of January 1, 1966, he was off duty and
left his clothing and valuables with a friend near the beach at Vung Tao,
South Vietnam to go swimming. His friend did not see him enter the water,
but when he looked up about 10 minutes later, he realized he could not find
The friend began searching for Kirksey on the beach and in the water, and
enlisted others to help in trying to find him, but had no luck. The friend
returned to his own unit and reported the incident. The Vietnamese Navy and
police in Vung Tao assisted in searching for Kirksey, but he was not found.
U.S. Advisors with the Vietnamese Navy indicated that if Kirksey had
drowned, his body would have been washed out to sea, rather than on the
beach because of the prevailing currents in the area. It was assumed, after
pursuing every opportunity to find Kirksey, that he had drowned.
Units assigned to coastal areas in Vietnam frequently took advantage of the
beaches for their recreation. Unfortunately, a number of accidental
drownings occurred - deaths that are tragically ironic in the midst of a
war. Kirksey is listed among the missing because his body was never found to
return to the country he served. He is among nearly 2500 missing in Vietnam.
For Kirksey, death seems certain. The cases of many of the other missing are
not as clear, however. Some were seen taken away by enemy forces. Others
were photographed in captivity. Many reported by radio an approaching enemy
force, and some just simply disappeared.
As reports mount that Americans are still captive in Southeast Asia, and the
U.S. engages in a publicity campaign leading towards normalization with the
countries holding them, one must wonder if in our haste to leave Vietnam, we
coldly abandoned our own men. And in our haste to return, will we again
abandon them? Where is our honor?