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)


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

"I'll be gone by the time you get home from school," said Bobby, the Green
                                                [WDN0326.97 03/27/97]
Touchy call over MIA dig

Daily News Washington Bureau


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. ...


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

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.