STUBBERFIELD, ROBERT AUSTIN Remains Returned - ID Announced 23 June 1989 Name: Robert Austin Stubberfield Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Date of Birth: 30 November 1929 Home City of Record: Richmond NC Date of Loss: 06 May 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 170330N 1070110E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF101C Refno: 0080 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. Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: BEEP HEARD - SEARCH NEG - J SYNOPSIS: The RF101 first saw action in Vietnam in late 1961, flying photo missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the primary communist supply line through southern Laos, and the Plain of Jars to the northwest where Soviet transports were delivering supplies to communist troops. The Voodoo later began conducting reconnaissaince over South Vietnam as well. By February 1965, the RF101 had been modified, making it stronger and more durable. The newer RF101C model, instead of taking pictures, navigated for fighter/bombers for a brief period, then returned to photo reconnaissance. The RF101C was an outstanding reconnaissance craft, and although it looked "hot" and was fast enough (max. speed 1000 mph) to leave a MiG-17 far behind, it could not race away from the faster MiG-21, and was gradually phased out and replaced by the RF4C Phantom II with its greater speed and superior survellience technology. On May 6, 1965, Capt. Robert A. Stubberfield was the pilot of an RF101C Voodoo on a mission which took him over Quang Binh Province, South Vietnam. This northern province is the southernmost province in North Vietnam, and its border to the south was the Song Ben Hai River. The five mile region surrounding the river comprised the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). U.S. Military Rules of Engagement prohibited ground or artillery attacks into this buffer zone established at the 1954 Geneva Conference, and it was not long before the Vietnamese discovered they could move their heavy artillery there and fire upon U.S. and South Vietnamese forces to the south of the DMZ. Capt. Stubberfield's mission was doubtless a reconnaissance mission relating to these enemy activities. During the mission, Stubberfield's aircraft was shot down just west of the city of Vinh Linh. Although Stubberfield's emergency beeper was heard, indicating that he successfully ejected from the aircraft and probably reached the ground, search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful. Stubberfield's wife and family knew there was a very good chance that he had been captured, and waited for the war to end. In 1973, 591 American prisoners of war were released from Hanoi, but Stubberfield was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of him. As the years passed, reports began to flow in to the U.S. regarding the some 3000 Americans unaccounted for at the end of the war. By 1989, nearly 10,000 reports have been received, convincing many authorities that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia. Then on June 23, 1989, the U.S. announced that remains previously returned by the Vietnamese had been identified as those of Capt. Robert A. Stubberfield. For nearly 25 years, Stubberfield - alive or dead - was a prisoner in enemy hands. While his family now can end their agonizing uncertainty as to whether he is one of those said to be alive, they may never know how - or when he died, or if he knew he had been abandoned by his own country.