Name: Robert Vincent Willett, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 05 August 1944
Home City of Record: Great Falls MT
Date of Loss: 17 April 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161700N 1064500E (XC860999)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F100D
Refno: 1427

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.

Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)


SYNOPSIS: Robert Willett was married only six weeks before he went to
Vietnam. His job there was piloting the Super Saber jet, the F100 (also
sometimes called the "Hun" or "Lead Sled"). The F100 was a fighter bomber,
and good at top cover and low attack, primarily used in Vietnam for close
air support.

On April 17, 1969, Willett's plane was shot down over Laos in Saravane
Province, just inside Laos, and south of the city of Khe Sanh, South
Vietnam. Circumstances surrounding Willett's loss indicate that there is a
strong probability that enemy forces know his fate.

When 591 American prisoners of war that were released in 1973 by the
Vietnamese, Willett was not among them. He was among nearly 600 Americans
lost in Laos who did not return. Laos was not included in the agreements
ending American involvement in Southeast Asia, and the U.S. has never
negotiated with the Lao for American prisoners they held. Even though the
Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held American prisoners,
not one man held in Laos was released.

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. If even one was left alive (and many
authorities estimate the numbers to be in the hundreds), we have failed as a
nation until and unless we do everything possible to secure his freedom and
bring him home.


May 1998
by JD Wetterling

Last Memorial Day weekend my grown son and I made a pilgrimage to the
Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC--my first--to pay our respects to a
few old friends of mine.  I had been moved by the half-scale-model traveling
version when it came to our town two years earlier, but it was inadequate
preparation for this......

BRADY Today Debby Perry is wearing a bracelet she first put on in high school. This is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Perry is honoring ...





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First Lieutenant Robert Vincent Willett Jr. entered the U.S. Air Force from Montana and served with the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 31st Tactical Fighter Wing. On April 17, 1969, he piloted a single-seat F-100D Super Sabre (tail number 56-3403) as one of two aircraft on a night strike mission over enemy targets in Laos. During his second pass at the target, his aircraft received enemy anti-aircraft fire, and according to his flighter leader, may have been hit. After making his third pass over the target and releasing his ordnance, First Lieutenant Willett's aircraft crashed and exploded southwest of the target area. No parachute was observed, no rescue beeper signals were received, and attempts following the crash to establish radio contact with First Lieutenant Willett failed. Efforts to locate or identify his remains have been unsuccessful. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted First Lieutenant Willett to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Willett 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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