Name: Robert Seidl
Rank/Branch: Civilian-Air America
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 12 March 1975
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 134800N 1075000E
Status (in 1973): --
Others In Incident: George C. Miller; Edward V. Dolan, (both missing)
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.
REMARKS: AIR VIETNAM CRASH
SYNOPSIS: During the 1950's a deteriorating political situation in Laos had
allowed NVA troops and Pathet Lao guerrillas to seize the Laotian panhandle
from the Royal Lao Army. Prevented by Geneva Accords from having a large
military presence in Laos, the U.S. established a "Program Evaluation
Office" (PEO) in 1958 as a CIA cover for anti-communist covert actions. One
activity, begun in 1958, used Meo tribesmen for a small pilot guerrilla
program, which soon became the largest clandestine army in CIA history. In
the first year, using U.S. Special Forces White Star teams as PEO
"civilians", a few CIA officers and 90 elite Thai Border guards, an army of
9000 Meo was trained for behind-lines guerrilla activity. Within 10 years,
the Meo army grew to over 40,000 guerrillas, becoming the most effective
fighting force in Laos.
The CIA's covert airline, known as "Air America" (AA) supported the Meo as
well as numerous other CIA-backed clandestine guerrilla armies. With the
escalating war, a large US military presence guaranteed that Air America
could operate in relative obscurity. With little fanfare throughout the
war, AA fought in the frontlines of unconventional war. AA pilots flew
"black missions" over China, North Vietnam and the Laotian panhandle. AA
flew in every type of aircraft from 727 jets to small Cessnas and junk
aircraft, transporting everything from combat troops (alive, wounded or
dead) to baby chicks, dropping rice to refugees and specially trained Nung
trailwatchers into denied areas. AA contracted both with the Drug
Enforcement Agency (to track international drug smugglers) and with the Meo
(to haul its annual and valuable opium crop).
As U.S. forces pulled out, AA picked up the slack, straining to maintain the
status quo. The communists drove the Meo from their homelands in the early
1970's, and as the Meo retreated, AA was in the position of hauling (and
feeding) tens of thousands of refugees. There were problems as the CIA fell
under Congressional scrutiny of its world-wide paramilitary activities and
public pressure to divest itself of Air America. South Vietnam's rapid
collapse in 1975 signified the end of the clandestine war that began in
Vietnam thirty years earlier.
Robert Seidl was an Air America pilot whose DC4 crashed near Pleiku with
George Miller and Edward Dolan aboard. A refugee stated that the pilot of
the aircraft was taken to Hanoi. It is possible that this report relates to
the crew of Dolan's DC4.
Thousands of reports have been received regarding Americans still held
captive in Southeast Asia. Many experts believe that hundreds of Americans
are still alive today. One of them could be Robert Seidl. He flew on many
missions for what he thought was the aid of his country. What are we doing
to help him?