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 Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B Other Personnel in Incident: John N. Flanigan (missing - remains identified 06/26/97) 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. REMARKS: 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.****