Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps
Unit: VMGA 542, MAG 11
Date of Birth: 07 August 1934
Home City of Record: Winter Haven FL
Date of Loss: 19 August 1969
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170400N 1070600E (XE810020)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Robert N. Smith (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of Task Force Omega from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Date Compiled: 01 January 1990
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?
"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."
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