Remains Identified 06/16/00
Name: Robert Lopez
Rank/Branch: O5/US Army Special Forces
Unit: C & C Detachment, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 07 October 1924
Home City of Record: Seattle WA
Date of Loss: 06 March 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 145208N 1075713E (YC456958)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: CH46A
Refno: 1077
Other Personnel In Incident: William H. Seward; indigenous personnel; (all
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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 2000.
SYNOPSIS: On March 6, 1968, Maj. William H. Seward, pilot and LtCol. Robert
Lopez, passenger, were aboard a US Marine Corps CH46A helicopter (tail #
151909 call sign Yankee Whiskey 17) as lead aircraft in a flight of 2 in
company with several other support aircraft on an insertion mission in South
Vietnam. Also on board Seward's helicopter were an unknown number of
indigenous personnel working with the Special Forces team.
While hovering above an 80 foot canopy to insert a the reconnaissance team,
the aircraft received moderate small arms fire and began settling. The
aircraft continued its descent until the rotor blades struck the trees and
the aircraft twisted and fell, coming to rest on the right side in a nose
low attitude.
Following the crash of the helicopter, both Seward and the co-pilot were
helplessly trapped in the twisted wreckage of the cockpit. The personnel who
were able to get out of the burning aircraft succeeded in freeing the
co-pilot. Maj. Seward was unconscious and trapped in the opposite side of
the cockpit. Every effort to free him failed. LtCol. Lopez appeared to be
trapped between the aircraft and the ground, and efforts to free him were
Once flames reached the cockpit and ammunition began exploding, the men were
forced to abandon rescue efforts. Within 30 seconds, the aircraft exploded
and was completely consumed by fire. A short while later, the survivors were
extracted by rescue helicopters and evacuated. A recovery team entered the
crash area about 2 hours later. The remains of one passenger, believed to be
those of Lopez were found, but were charred beyond recognition, and it was
decided not to attempt recovery. Other remains were apparently destroyed by
fire and explosion. The other men reported missing were indigenous, names
Lopez and Seward are listed with honor among the missing because no remains
were found. Their cases seem quite clear. For others who are listed missing,
resolution is not as simple. Many were known to have survived their loss
incident. Quite a few were in radio contact with search teams and describing
an advancing enemy. Some were photographed or recorded in captivity. Others
simply vanished without a trace.
National League of Families
UPDATE LINE: June 16, 2000
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line.  This 
message is being recorded on Friday, June 16th.  The number of Americans 
still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is now 2,017.
Today, the Defense Department provided the names of three Americans now 
accounted for, and the name of a fourth was not publicly released at the 
request of his family.  Those announced include Captain Roger M. Netherland, 
USN, of PA, LTC Robert Lopez, USA, of WA, and Major William H. Seward, USMC, 
of GA.  The remains of Captain Netherland, missing since May 10, 1967, were 
unilaterally repatriated by the Government of Vietnam on September 11, 1989.  
The remains of LTC Lopez and Major Seward were jointly recovered in August of 
1993 and October of 1994.  The accounting for these three Americans, plus the 
one Air Force officer not publicly identified, brings the number still 
missing and unaccounted for to 2,017, 1,514 in Vietnam.  Of the 427 still 
missing in Laos and the 68 unaccounted for in Cambodia, approximately 85% 
were lost in areas under Vietnam's wartime control.  There are also 8 
Americans still unaccounted for in the territorial waters of the PRC.