SMITH, ROBERT NORMAN
Name: Robert Norman Smith
Rank/Branch: O5/US Marine Corps
Unit: HAMS 11, MAG 11
Date of Birth: 20 September 1926
Home City of Record: Trucksville PA
Date of Loss: 19 August 1969
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170400N 1070600E (XE810020)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: John N. Flanigan (missing - remains identified
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.
Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK. 2020
SYNOPSIS: On August 19, 1969, Lt.Col. Robert N. Smith, pilot, and Capt. John N.
Flanigan, radar intercept officer, departed Da Nang in their F4B Phantom
fighter/bomber jet aircraft to fly escort on a photo reconnaissance mission
just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Smith's aircraft made one run over the target, and then he and the other
aircraft separated and were supposed to rendezvous for a second run. Smith
never returned for the second run, and contact was never established with Smith
or his backseater.
It was never determined whether Smith's aircraft was shot down or crashed
because of a malfunction. However, the area in which they were last seen, about
5 miles east of the city of Vinh Linh in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam,
was relatively heavily defended. The U.S. believes there is a high degree of
probability that the enemy knew what happened to Smith and Flanigan.
Smith and Flanigan were not among the prisoners of war that were released in
1973. High ranking U.S. officials admit their dismay that "hundreds" of
suspected American prisoners of war did not return.
Alarmingly, evidence continues to mount that Americans were left as prisoners
in Southeast Asia and continue to be held today. Unlike "MIAs" from other wars,
most of the nearly 2500 men and women who remain missing in Southeast Asia can
be accounted for. Smith and Flanigan could be among them. Isn't it time we
brought our men home?
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE NEWS RELEASE-60TH AIR MOBILITY WING(AMW) PUBLIC
AFFAIRS DIVISION, TRAVIS AFB, CA PHONE: (707)424-2011
NEWS RELEASE NO. 9706-20 JUNE 26, 1997
The remains of FIVE American servicemembers previously unaccounted for from
Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their families
for burial in the United States. Their remains will be repatriated in a
ceremony at 4:00 pm June 26 on the Travis flightline.
They are identified as LT.COL.LEWIS H. ABRAMS, MARINE CORPS, of Montclair,
N.J.; MAJ. ROBERT E. HOLDEMAN, MARINE CORPS. of Winchester, Ind.; and
CAPTAIN JOHN N. FLANIGAN, MARINE CORPS, of Winter Haven, Fla. THE NAMES OF
TWO AIR FORCE AVIATORS WILL NOT BE RELEASED AT THE REQUEST OF THEIR FAMILIES.
On Nov. 25, 1967, Abrams and Holdeman were shot down while flying a night
strike mission near Haiphong, North Vietnam. A radio Peking broadcast
confirmed the Marine Corps aircraft had been shot down in the vicinity of
Haiphong. In 1988, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam repatriated what they
believed to be the remains of U.S. service personnel lost during the Vietnam
War. Included in the remains was a military identification card fragment
with what appeared to be the name Abrams.
In 1993 and 1995, joint U.S. and Vietnamese teams investigated and excavated
a crash site in Hai Phong Province. Local villagers reported that remains
had previously recovered and turned over to higher authorities. They also
turned over bone fragments found near the crash site.
On August 19, 1969, Flanigan and his pilot were flying an F-4B as escort for
a photo recon mission over North Vietnam. They lost contact with other
aircraft in their flight, and never made it back to their base at Danang,
South Vietnam. In 1989, the Vietnamese gov. repatriated remains believed to
be those of Flanigan. Four subsequent joint US and Vietnamese
investigations were able to locate their crash site in Quang Binh Province.
The site was excavated in 1995 where aircraft wreckage, aircrew related
items, and personnel effects were located, but NO human remains were found.
The remains of Flanigan turned over by the Vietnamese were positively
identified and Mitochondrial DNA testing was used to confirm the
identification. With the identification of these FIVE service members, 2118
Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
** No additional information about the two Air Force avaitors has been given.****