PREISS, ROBERT FRANCIS, JR. Remains returned 06/30/98 Name: Robert Francis Preiss, Jr. Rank/Branch: E6/US Army Special Forces Unit: CCN/MACV-SOG, 5th Special Forces Group Date of Birth: 27 April 1945 (Queens NY) Home City of Record: Cornwall NY Date of Loss: 12 May 1970 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 160211N 1070853E (YC298740) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: Source: Compiled 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 in 1998. SYNOPSIS: SSgt. Robert F. Preiss was assigned to MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group). MACV-SOG was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions. On May 12, 1970, SSgt. Preiss was a team leader of reconnaissance team COBRA when during a rest break, the team was taken under fire by a squad-sized NVA element. SSgt. Preiss suffered a mortal wound and later died. Due to the tactical situation, the team was forced to withdraw, leaving Preiss behind. On May 18, 1970, a recovery team was inserted into the area to search for the body of SSgt. Preiss. From all indications, the battle area had been sterilized and a large rockslide had occurred. The only sign of Preiss was the smell of decomposing flesh from beneath the rock slide. It was believed that SSgt. Preiss' body was under the rocks, but they were large and could not be moved. For every mission like Preiss' that was detected and stopped, dozens of other commando teams safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence gathering waged on foreign soil in U.S. military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep penetration forces ever raised. The missions Preiss and others were assigned were exceedingly dangerous and of strategic importance. The men who were put into such situations knew the chances of their recovery if captured was slim to none. They quite naturally assumed that their freedom would come by the end of the war. For 591 Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another 2500, however, freedom has never come. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities that hundreds remain alive in captivity. Although it does not appear that Preiss is among them, there are clearly some who are alive. What must they be thinking of us? What would SSgt. Robert F. Preiss, Jr. think of us? ----------------------------------- [dn0323.97 03/25/97] Lost Casualty Of Secret War Family fights for G.I.'s remains Daily News - 3/23/97 That last day, Don Preiss remembers, he was brushing his teeth when his brother Bobby came into the bathroom and punched him lightly on the shoulder. "I'll be gone by the time you get home from school," said Bobby, the Green Beret..... ---------------------------------- [WDN0326.97 03/27/97] Touchy call over MIA dig By RICHARD SISK Daily News Washington Bureau WASHINGTON The Army yesterday faced a heartrending dilemma in trying to bring home Sgt. Robert Preiss Jr., whose remains in Laos have been identified by DNA analysis. ... ------------------------------------- MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS June 30, 1998 No. 110-M The remains of two American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States. They are identified as US Marine Corps Capt. John B. Sherman of Darien, Conn., and US Army Staff Sgt. Robert F. Preiss, Jr., of Cornwall, NY On March 25, 1966, Sherman was dive-bombing enemy positions in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam when his F-8E Crusader was struck by enemy ground fire. The aircraft crashed in Quang Nam-Da Nang Province. A ground search for his remains was not possible because of enemy activity in the area. In April and May 1993, a joint team of U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam investigators interviewed several local informants in Quang Nam-Da Nang Province who provided information about the crash of a US aircraft. The US team, led by the Joint Task Force Full Accounting, reported that two of the informants recalled an incident in March or April 1966 in which they buried the body of an American pilot near a crash site. Two other witnesses reported they disinterred the remains in 1990, which they turned over to the joint team. The joint team surveyed the crash and burial sites indicated by the local Ainformants and found aircraft wreckage as well as pilot-related items. The remains and other items were returned to the U. S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, where laboratory analysis confirmed the identification. On May 12, 1970, Preiss was the leader of a reconnaissance team that came under enemy fire in Laos. He suffered a mortal wound but because of enemy action and difficult terrain his body could not be recovered. Six days later, a recovery team failed to locate Preiss' body. The team reported that a rock slide had covered the body with large boulders. In March and April of 1995, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic team investigated Preiss' loss in Xekong Province. The team conducted a ground search along the banks of the stream in the vicinity of the loss location with negative results. In May 1995, another joint team interviewed villagers nearby and persuaded them to take the team to a place where remains allegedly had been seen. The team did recover some personal equipment and possible human remains. A third trip was made to the area in April 1997. This team recovered material evidence, however no remains or personal effects were found during this investigation. In early 1998, another joint team excavated the site where they recovered possible human remains and personal effects. Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by CILHI confirmed the identification of Preiss. With the identification of these two servicemen, 496 Americans have been accounted for since the end of the war in Southeast Asia, with 2,087 still unaccounted-for. The US government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the governments of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic that resulted in the accounting of these servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the highest national priority.