REX, ROBERT 'F' "BOB"
Name: Robert 'F' "Bob" Rex
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 28 November 1941
Home City of Record: Odebolt IA
Date of Loss: 09 March 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165219N 1062548E (XD524658)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
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 2020.
Other Personnel In Incident: Tim L. Walters (missing)
SYNOPSIS: Bob Rex had a bright future when he graduated from the Air Force
Academy in 1964. He was both coach and player on the Academy soccer team,
and was affectionately known throughout the Wing as "Oed".
Captain Rex and Army Staff Sergeant Tim L. Walters were the pilot and
observer aboard an O2A aircraft (serial #67-21425) on a combat support
mission when it crashed for unknown reasons about 5 miles into Laos west of
the DMZ on March 9, 1969. Walters was from Special Operations Group, MACV.
The O2A was a two-place observation plane which flew forward air control,
marking targets, locating friendly troops, and directing air strikes.
At first, the enemy feared the presence of the small observation planes,
knowing that they were able to bring in fighter planes. Later, however, it
became more commonplace for any enemy group that believed it had been
sighted to open fire and try to bring down the FAC and reduce the accuracy
of the impending strike.
The crew of these small unarmed crafts had a dim hope of survival if hit
because of their close proximity to the enemy and lack of ability to eject
at high altitude and drift out of the area. The planes were light, however,
and flew low, so survival was not out of the question. Additionally, the
enemy developed weaponry that could knock out the engines only, allowing the
plane to arrive on the ground with far less damage.
After Rex and Walters' aircraft crashed, another aircraft (call sign Knife
55), reported that the aircraft crashed at about 1150 hours. A ground team
inspected the wreckage and reported that both the occupants were dead.
However, hostile ground fire prevented them from recovering the remains. Two
members of the ground team did not personally know SSgt. Walters, but stated
that both individuals were positively dead. An aircraft engine was on top of
the NCO (Walters). The ground team recovered the weapons, map case and
camera from the aircraft, but because of hostile ground fire, left the
The U.S. Department of Defense categorized Bob Rex and Tim Walters "Killed
in Action, Body Not Recovered", yet the U.S. State Department, using Defense
records, coded the demise of Walters as "died while missing" and Rex as
"hostile - killed", indicating that there was a probability that the
aircraft was shot down, rather than downed through some malfunction or pilot
error. Certainly, there is a very high probability that the enemy knows the
whereabouts of Bob Rex and Tim Walters.
The U.S. has approached the Lao only in recent years (mid to late 1980's)
for cooperation in examining crash sites of downed aircraft. While the
product of these searches have yielded remains of some missing men, they
have also resulted in what many call "voodoo forensics" whereby men are
identified from bone fragments non-government experts claim are
unidentifiable. Several POW/MIA families have successfully brought suit
against the government for these faulty identifications.
Even more tragically, reports relating to missing Americans continue to flow
in, convincing many authorities that hundreds of Americans are still alive
in Southeast Asia, waiting for their country to secure their freedom, yet
the U.S. maintains they have no actionable evidence and take no action to
Rex and Walters, according to the search team, died the day their aircraft
went down in Laos. Until their remains are returned, we are abandoning them
to the enemy.
NOTE: "Special Operations Group-MACV" is not a term used in "The Order of
Battle", a highly comprehensive (although not without errors/omissions)
listing of U.S. Army units in Vietam compiled by noted military historian
Shelby Stanton. The compiler of this synopsis, therefore, questions the unit
A more common designation for the acronym "SOG", is Studies and Observation
Group, a highly classified group attached to MACV which conducted
clandestine missions of reconnaissance and interdiction. 5th Special Forces
Group channeled personnel through "Special Operations Augmentation" (SOA)
into MACV-SOG. It will interest readers that one of the functions of
MACV-SOG was tracking all imprisoned and missing Americans and conducting
raids to assist and free them. It is possible, although not at all certain,
that the "SOG" referred to in this loss incident could be MACV-SOG.