Name: John Robert Williams
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: Battery F, 79th Artillery Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division
Date of Birth: 17 September 1943 (Gilroy CA)
Home City of Record: Daleville AL
Date of Loss: 11 May 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 113825N 1063639E (XT766872)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AH1G
Refno: 1855

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: Rodney L. Strobridge (missing)


SYNOPSIS: On May 11, 1972, Capt. Robert J. Williams, pilot, and Capt. Rodney
L. Strobridge, co-pilot, were flying an AH1G helicopter (tail #69-15009), as
wingmen in a flight of three AH1G helicopters launched to support allied
forces at An Loc, in Binh Long Province, South Vietnam.

While pulling off the target, the aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire.
Something had hit near the tail boom, and it was severed from the fusilage.
The aircraft went into a flat spin and crashed. It was believed that a SAM
(surface to air missile) had hit the aircraft because of the immediate
separation of the tail boom.

Capt. Williams' last radio transmission was, "Oh, my God!"

No further radio contact was made with Williams and Strobridge. No one saw
the helicopter hit the ground. Both men were thought to have died in the
crash of their aircraft.

A refugee later reported that while serving in the 21st Division Engineers
at An Loc, he discovered the skeletal remains of an American. The U.S. Army
believes this could have been Williams or Strobridge, but the remains have
never been recovered.

According to witnesses, Williams and Strobridge are almost certainly dead.
Tragically, their families have no grave holding their bodies to visit.
Their remains are on enemy soil and not buried in their homeland. Even more
tragically, evidence mounts that hundreds of Americans are still alive, held
captive in Southeast Asia. What must they be thinking of us?


On 11 May 1972 the city of An Loc, SVN, was under attack by North Vietnamese forces during
the so-called Spring Offensive. US air power was used extensively in defense of the city, and
five aircraft were lost that day:

    A-37B serial 69-6345, 1st Lt Michael J. Blassie, 8th SOS
    O-2A serial 68-11000, Capt Barry K. Allmond, 21st TASS
    O-2A serial 68-11004, 1st Lt John H. Haselton, 21st TASS
    AH-1G serial 68-15009, Cpt Rodney L. Strobridge and Cpt Robert J Williams, F/79th ARA
    A-1 Skyraider, RVAF, pilot and circumstances unknown

Blassie's aircraft was observed from the time it was hit by 23mm AAA fire until impact in a jungled
area, where it exploded; Blassie did not eject before impact.

Allmond's aircraft too was observed from the time it was hit by AAA until it crashed; he did not bail
out of his aircraft. Haselton was hit about four hours later, and he too rode his aircraft into the ground.

Strobridge and Williams were hit by AAA fire and lost their tail boom; the aircraft went into a flat spin
and crashed, but the actual crash was not observed by anyone else.

At the time, the four US losses were outside the An Loc defensive perimeter and ground search and
rescue simply was impossible. Airborne SAR was restricted due to heavy AAA fire and the absolute
necessity of allocating available resources to support of the ground troops defending An Loc. Since
the downing of the three Air Force pilots had been observed and there was no evidence that any of
them had been able to leave their aircraft, they were classed as Killed in Action/Body not Recovered.
Strobridge and Williams were classed as Missing in Action.

After the NVA gave up on the Spring Offensive it was possible to search for the downed aircraft. In
October 1972 an ARVN patrol located a crash site, recovering fragmentary human remains and aircrew
items, including 1st Lt Blassie's identification card - but the card was stolen before the remains reached
the mortuary in Saigon, and only a tentative identification could be made. By 1980, this had been downgraded
and the remains were classed as "unidentifiable". In 1984 the remains were buried with full honors in Arlington
Cemetery as the Vietnam War's Unknown Soldier. In 1998, President Clinton directed that the remains be
disinterred for DNA examination, which proved beyond doubt that they belonged to Michael Blassie. At his
family's request, 1st Lt Blassie was buried with honors in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis,

During the period between their loss and the fall of South Vietnam, the wreckage of both O-2s was located
and the remains of Captain Allmond and 1st Lt Haselton recovered, confirming that they died on 11 May 72.

Neither the AH-1G wreckage nor the remains of Strobridge and Williams have been located; they remain
among the missing.



Jack L. Morrison
Photo Volunteer
and LinkMaster
The Virtual Wall
B  Battery, 1st Battalion,
77th Artillery (105mm),
1st Cavalry Division,
Vietnam, 1970-71

Subject: Love Letters
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2020 16:42:04 -0600
From: OLIVIA EMERICK <oe87351@eanesisd.net>

Dear Family of Major Robert John Williams 
My name is Olivia Emerick, and I am a student at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.

My English class is reading The Things They Carried, and is now beginning a project memorializing 
servicemen whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. We are commemorating lost servicemen,
and I received Major Robert John Williams' name. 

I was wondering if you would be willing to share memories, experiences or photos of Major Williams
that I can include in my memorial to make my tribute more personal. 
If you would like to see similar projects to the one I'm working on and where my memorial will be
posted, please visit http://virtualvietnam.eanesisd.net/. Also, please feel free to contact my teacher,
Jordan Connell at jconnell@eanesisd.net

Thank you so much for your time and consideration, 

Olivia Emerick






Return to Service Member Profiles

On May 11, 1972, an AH-1G Cobra (tail number 68-15009) was the wingman aircraft in a flight of three AH-1Gs launched to support allied forces at An Loc in Binh Long Province, South Vietnam. While pulling off the target, the aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire, and soon after the tail boom severed from the fuselage. The Cobra entered a flat spin and crashed in the vicinity of grid coordinates XT 755 872. Attempts to contact the crew by radio following the crash were unsuccessful, and search and rescue efforts were precluded by heavy enemy presence in the area. Neither of the AH-1G's crew members were seen again. 

Captain Robert John Williams entered the U.S. Army from Alabama and was a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 229th Aviation Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. He was the pilot of this AH-1G and was lost with the aircraft when it crashed. His remains were not recovered. After the incident, the U.S. Army promoted Captain Willaims to the rank of Major. Today, Major Williams 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.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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