Remains ID announced 08/15/2007

Name: Alton Craig Rockett
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 20 January 1932
Home City of Record: Birmingham AL
Date of Loss: 02 June 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 175000N 1062700E (XE532722)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Refno: 0717

Official pre-capture photo

Other Personnel in Incident: Daniel L. Carrier (remains returned)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 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. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.


SYNOPSIS: 1Lt. Daniel L. Carrier and Capt. Alton C. Rockett Jr. were pilots
of an F4C Phantom fighter/bomber assigned a mission over North Vietnam on
June 2, 1967. The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings,
served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor,
photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast
(Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and
mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at
low and high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
planes around.

At a point on the coast of North Vietnam's Quang Binh Province, about 5
miles north of the city of Ron, Rockett and Carrier's aircraft was shot down
and they were declared Missing in Action. unknown.

The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded the Missing in Action
classification to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 3. Category 3
indicates "doubtful knowledge" and includes personnel whose loss incident is
such that it is doubtful that the enemy wound have knowledge of the specific
individuals (e.g. aircrews lost over water or remote areas).

On November 20, 1989, the Vietnamese returned remains to the U.S. which were
subsequently identified as being those of Daniel L. Carrier. For his family,
there can finally be a homecoming, a funeral, and long-delayed healing.

For Rockett's family, and for thousands of others, however, conclusions
remain elusive. Over 2300 men and women are still maintained on "unaccounted
for" lists. Further, since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports have been
received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans missing in Southeast
Asia. Many authorities who have reviewed this classified material have
reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive, held
prisoner in Southeast Asia.

Whether Daniel L. Carrier and Alton Rockett were ever held prisoner of war
is unclear. What is certain, however, is that as long as there is even one
American held against his will in Southeast Asia, we owe him our very best
efforts to bring him home.

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
August 15, 2007
Air Force Pilot Missing From Vietnam War Is Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Lt. Col. Alton C. Rockett, Jr., U.S. Air Force, of Birmingham, Ala. He will be buried Monday in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On June 2, 1967, Rockett and his co-pilot, Capt. Daniel L. Carrier, crewed the number two aircraft in a flight of two F-4Cs flying an armed reconnaissance mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. During their bomb run, anti-aircraft ground fire was observed, but Rockett reported that his aircraft was not hit. When the lead aircraft completed its bomb run, the flight leader told Rockett to return to base, but moments later, he saw a large fireball in his rear-view mirror. He made several radio calls to Rockett, but did not hear or see anything from the aircraft. Due to the dangerous location, there were no further search and rescue attempts.
In June and July 1989, Vietnamese officials repatriated to the United States sets of remains of U.S. servicemembers. The officials also supplied documents identifying that three of the sets of remains were those of Rockett, Carrier and another serviceman, Col. Samuel C. Maxwell. It was later discovered that the name associations among those remains had been confused. In October and November 1989, Maxwell and Carrier were identified after further analysis, but the third set of remains could not be attributed to Rockett at that time.
In 1993, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated the incident and interviewed witnesses. One Vietnamese citizen said that Rockett and Carrier were buried near the crash site, but that their remains were exhumed in 1978 by Vietnamese officials.
In 2001, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team re-interviewed witnesses and surveyed the burial and crash sites. Small pieces of airplane wreckage were found at the crash site.
In 2003, a maternal-line mitochondrial DNA reference sample for Rockett was obtained.
In 2006, another joint U.S./S.R.V. team excavated the burial sites, but recovered no human remains.
Using forensic identification tools, circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory identified Rockett's remains, which were those previously repatriated to the United States in 1989.
Subject:  Submission
Date:  Thu, 24 May 2018 03:54:01 +0000
From:  William M. Killian

On June 2, 1967, aircraft commander CPT Alton C. Rockett Jr. and pilot 1LT Daniel L. Carrier were on board the Number Two F-4C Phantom II in a flight of two on a night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. The Flight Leader cleared Number Two into the target first. At the time of Number Two’s bomb run, anti-aircraft ground fire was observed, but CPT Rockett stated his aircraft was not hit. Number Two then orbited while the Flight Leader completed his pass. When the Flight Leader had finished bombing, he told Number Two to return to base, which was acknowledged. About one minute later, the Flight Leader noticed a large fireball in his rearview mirror. He immediately turned back to see the rapidly diminishing fireball. The Flight Leader could not positively identify the source of the fireball. He made numerous unsuccessful radio calls to his wingman. During the search period prior to their low-fuel state and departing the area, neither crewman of the lead aircraft heard any beeper signals or sighted any unusual visual signal. Due to darkness and the location, no search and rescue effort was initiated. Both Rockett and Carrier were declared Missing in Action. [Taken from]


Submitted by William M. Killian




Return to Service Member Profiles

On June 1, 2007, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now DPAA) identified the remains of Lieutenant Colonel Alton Craig Rockett Jr., missing from the Vietnam War.

Lieutenant Colonel Rockett joined the U.S. Air Force from Alabama and was a member of the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron. On June 2, 1967, he was a crew member aboard an F-4C Phantom II (tail number 637548) on a night armed reconnaissance mission over enemy territory in Vietnam. During the mission, Lt Col Rockett's aircraft was downed by anti-aircraft fire, and he was killed in the incident. Enemy presence in the area at the time prevented search efforts for his aircraft's crash site. In July 1989, the Vietnamese government returned remains to American authorities that included those of Lt Col Rockett; however, he could not be individually identified among those remains until 2007.

Lieutenant Colonel Rockett is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.