Name: Robert Russell Sennett
Rank/Branch: E2/US Navy
Unit: Anti-Submarine Squadron 35, USS HORNET (CVA12)
Date of Birth: 02 May 1939
Home City of Record: Mar Vista CA
Loss Date: 22 January 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 193958N 1072159E (YG481761)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 5
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: S2D
Refno: 0237

Other Personnel In Incident: William Forman; Edmund Frenyea; Erwin Templin
(all missing)

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

SYNOPSIS: In early 1966, there were several search and rescue (SAR)
destroyers parked off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. When
the attack and fighter people would egress, they would be there to assist a
cripple or pick up a guy who had to punch out or ditch. During the night
when the strike activity would ebb, the SAR DDs would steam around their
small areas waiting for the next day's activities. It was during these night
and early morning hous that high speed surface contacts would probe their
positions. The "Stoof" (S2D) helped provide air cover for these surface
ships. The Stoof was technically an anti-submarine aircraft, but had little
call to exercise submarine missions in Vietnam. There were only a few of
such planes assigned to Vietnam at all.

If a ship thought its position was being probed by enemy boats, it would
vector the Stoof out over the target. The Stoof tactic was to drop a
parachute retarded flare from about 10,000 feet over the target, circle back
around at a low altitude (about 300 feet) and investigate. If the target was
unfriendly, then the S2 would engage and destroy it. There was a certain
amount of risk involved in these operations, as the Vietnamese PT boats had
radar that enabled them to strike with no visual contact.

In the dead of night on January 22, 1966, a Stoof launched from the USS
Hornet with pilot William S. Forman and crewmembers Edwin B. Templin, Robert
R. Sennett and Edmund H. Frenyea. Their mission was to investigate an
unidentified bogie. Their progress was under the advisory control of the USS
BERKELEY, and no unusual circumstances were reported.

About 6:45 AM the USS BERKELEY reminded the crew that their mission should
be concluded shortly and they should return to the USS HORNET. Receipt of
this information was acknowledged and it was reported that they had a
surface contact and would investigate before departing the area.

Shortly thereafter the aircraft disappeared from the radar scope of the USS
BERKELEY. This was not considered significant or alarming at that time as it
was believed the aircraft had gone beneath the radar to investigate its
contact. It is thought that the natural curvature of the earth caused the
aircraft to go off radar approximately five minutes before they were
scheduled to return to the HORNET. Their last known location according to
coordinates was in the Gulf of Tonkin about halfway between the coastal city
of Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam and the Chinese island of Hai Nan, although
reports to some of the families placed them much closer to the island -
about 15 miles away. Within a few hours of the disappearance, Radio Hanoi
reported that an aircraft had been shot down near Bach Long Vi Island, North
Vietnam. The Navy did not classify the men missing as Prisoners of War
because this report could not be confirmed as accurate. The last known
location of the aircraft was about 30 miles from this island.

At 7:15 AM the USS BERKELEY notified the USS MAHAN that the aircraft should
be inbound to USS MAHAN enroute to the USS HORNET. Upon receipt of this
information the USS MAHAN tried unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft by
radio and radar and subsequently reported the situation to the USS HORNET.
Shortly thereafter search and rescue efforts were commenced and LCDR Forman
and his crew were reported missing at sea.

A close friend of Templin's was part of the effort. According to him, the
weather was clear, and there was not a puff of wind. The Gulf was so calm
that there was not a ripple on the surface, so that objects floating great
distances away could be seen. The search parties found no trace, no oil
slick and no debris indicating where the plane went down. According to
Templin's friend, the search went on for the remaining months he was on
station. He says, "Our squadron was uniquely qualified...we had the right
kind of airplane and were working in the immediate area and more
importantly...we cared. We found nothing."

On February 1, 1966 the four-man life raft from the aircraft was found off
the coast of North Vietnam approximately 152 miles from the last known
position of the aircraft. The raft, which was identified by its serial
number, bore no evidence of having been used and did not show any signs of
damage by fire or gunfire. This particular raft is designed to automatically
inflate when immersed in salt water. On March 14, 1966 a flight helmet was
found by a friendly fishing junk and turned over to U.S. authorities. This
helmet was picked up in the same general area as where the life raft was
located and has been identified as belonging to Bernard Templin.

When Templin`s friend left Yankee Station and was steaming away to safer
waters, he was walking down a passageway and one of the Intelligence
Officers from the Flag stopped him. They went to a secure area and he told
Templin's friend that some very high-level intelligence had been forwarded
to the ship identifying one or more of the crew members from the aircraft as
positively seen in North Vietnam. Templin's friend naturally assumed that
they were POWs. None of the crew ever returned.

The four were maintained as missing until 1975, at which time a "finding of
death" was made on the crew based on no information to indicate they were

Tragically, information has poured from Southeast Asia since the end of the
war regarding American prisoners still alive in captivity. The U.S.
Government has received nearly 10,000 such reports, yet seems unable to find
the formula to secure the freedom of those Americans.




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On January 22, 1966, an S-2D Tracker (bureau number 149252) carrying four crew members launched from the USS Hornet (CVS 12) on a surveillance mission over North Vietnam. While returning to the ship and flying over the Gulf of Tonkin, the Tracker's pilot radioed he would investigate a possible target appearing on the water's surface and shortly thereafter, the aircraft disappeared from radar in the vicinity of (GC) 48Q YG 481 761. The aircraft was presumed to have fallen out of radar contact because of its flying at a lower altitude while investigating the possible target. Contact with the aircraft was not reestablished, and it was not seen or heard from again. An extensive search was made but failed in locating the missing aircraft or its crew.

Aviation Machinist's Mate Second Class Robert Russell Sennett entered the U.S. Navy from California and was a member of Sea Control Squadron 35, embarked aboard the Hornet. He was a crew member aboard this Tracker when it disappeared on January 22, 1966, and was lost with the aircraft. After the incident, the Navy promoted ADR2 Sennett to the rank of Aviation Machinist's Mate Senior Chief (ADCS). Today, Aviation Machinist's Mate Senior Chief Sennett is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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