Name: Robert James Watkins, Jr.
Rank/Branch: W2/US Army
Unit: Company D, 158th Aviation Battalion, 160th Aviation Group, 101st
Airborne Division
Date of Birth: 10 June 1942
Home City of Record: Ft. Mehoe MD
Date of Loss: 08 October 1969
Country of Loss: Laos (some lists say South Vietnam)
Loss Coordinates: 161003N 1070758E (YC280885)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: AH1G
Refno: 1499

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: Capt. Robert T. Andrews was the pilot and CW2 Robert J. Watkins
the copilot in a 2 gunship flight providing protective cover for a downed
aircraft in the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam. After the flight had completed
its mission, and was returning to Camp Evans, Capt. Andrews determined that
because of approaching darkness, bad weather and low fuel, he would attempt
to land in the A Shau rather than attempt to continue the hazardous trip.

As the aircraft was descending through a cloud layer in a landing attempt,
it apparently hit some trees, and Andrews was knocked unconscious. Andrews
regained consciousness the following morning, and saw that Watkins was
hanging from the helicopter. He was unable to find any heartbeat or pulse
and reported that the remains were cold.

Andrews was rescued 5 days later during which time he attempted to walk to a
recognized area, walking away from the crash in what he believed to be a
westerly direction.

Andrews was rescued in Laos, but was unable to determine where the
helicopter had crashed. It is for this reason, and for the reason that the
helicopter's last known location was on the border of Laos and South Vietnam
at a point where the Lao Province of Saravane meets Thua Thien Province in
South Vietnam, that some lists vary as to the country of loss.

An attempt to find the crash site by air was unsuccessful. An attempt at map
tracking by intelligence specialists located the probable crash site
location, but because of enemy presence, that site has never been visited.

The case of Robert J. Watkins seems clear. It is unfortunate that he has not
been buried in American soil, having fought for his country bravely and
well. Even more unfortunately, evidence mounts that hundreds of missing
Americans are still alive, held captive in Southeast Asia. What must they be
thinking of us? What would Robert Watkins think of us?





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On October 8, 1969, an AH-1G Cobra (tail number 68-15044, call sign "Redskin 27") with two crew members took off its base at Camp Evans, South Vietnam, as one of two gunships providing protective cover for a downed aircraft in the Ashau Valley. After the gunships had completed their mission, this Cobra's pilot decided that due to approaching nightfall, bad weather, and his low fuel level, he would attempt to land in the Ashau Valley rather than return to Camp Evans. While attempting to land, the Cobra struck high trees and crashed. The pilot survived the crash and, after determining that the other crew member was dead, left the crash site. He was rescued five days later but could not pinpoint the location of the crash site for search teams. Extensive searches were unable to find the downed Cobra.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert James Watkins Jr., who joined the U.S. Army from Maryland, served with Aviation Company D, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. He was the co-pilot of this Cobra and his remains could not be located by search teams. Further attempts to locate his remains were unsuccessful. Today, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Watkins 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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