Other Personnel in Incident: Robert L. Babula; Robert
C. Borton Jr.; Dennis R. Carter (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991
from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency
sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project.
SYNOPSIS: PFC Robert L. Babula, PFC Robert C. Borton Jr.,
PFC John E. Bodenschatz Jr., and PFC Dennis R. Carter were members of 1st
Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. On 28 August 1966, the
four were assigned as a fire team ambush with instructions to establish
an ambush site approximately 500 meters to the south of their platoon patrol
base. This specific location is in Hoa Hai village within grid square BT
The fire team departed at 3:00 a.m. on August 28, and
were given instructions for use of the pyrotechnics they were carrying
as signaling devices. They were further instructed to relocate in the same
general area or return to their platoon patrol base in the event their
ambush site was compromised, and finally to return no later than 9:00 a.m.
When the fire team failed to return as scheduled, an immediate
search of the area was conducted by Company K with negative results. During
the period of August 29-31, the Battalion made a dovetailed search of the
entire area covering all possible routes of egress in the event the team
members had been captured.
Indigenous personnel in the area were questioned, but
no evidence was uncovered which gave any clues. Villagers were questioned
and a search of the area continued. On September 4, Company K discovered
part of an American wrist watch and PFC Bodenschatz' two identification
tags in the vicinity of BT 061673. The search was intensified in that area,
including the use of heavy engineer equipment in an effort to locate graves,
but no further trace was found.
On September 13, the Battalion cordoned off grid squares
BT 0567, 0667, 0566, 0666 and all inhabitants were assembled, screened,
and interrogated by an ARVN interrogation team from Hoa Vang District Headquarters.
Three Viet Cong suspects were retained for further questioning, however,
no additional information was obtained concerning the four Marines.
The Battalion commander's final determination was that
the four Marines were probably captured.
In 1975, information was declassified that indicated that
since the fire team's disappearance, Marine headquarters had received two
reports sighting three to four Americans being displayed in villages south
of the area in which the fire team disappeared.
A Christmas card received by Company K/3/1 1st Marine
Division, sent by Babula's mother and sister, stated that they had recently
received news that Babula was a prisoner of war. None of the four, however,
returned in the general prisoner release in 1973.
Since the war ended, the Defense Department has received
over 10,000 reports relating to the men still unaccounted for in Southeast
Asia, yet concludes that no actionable evidence has been received that
would indicate Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. A recent Senate
investigation indicates that most of these reports were dismissed without
just cause, and that there is every indication that Americans remained
in captivity far after the war ended, and may be alive today.
The fate of the four Marines on the fire team on 28 August
1966 remains uncertain. What is clear, however, is that it's time we learned
the truth about our missing and brought them home.