Name: Robert Elwood Bennett III
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 08 December 1942
Home City of Record: Springfield NJ
Date of Loss: 13 December 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 100200N 1061857E (XS431091)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident:
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.
PARACHUTED IN RIVER AND SANK
The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
1Lt. Robert E. Bennett III was the pilot of an F4C aircraft which was assigned a close air support mission in South Vietnam on December 13, 1967. His aircraft, the number two plane in a flight of two, had delivered its ordnance and the crewmembers were instructed to drop the canisters in a river. They acknowledged the transmission and immediately thereafter they were seen to eject with good parachutes. (There is no indication in public records why the crew ejected.)
Bennett and his Bombardier/Navigator landed in a river (from coordinates, probably the Song Co Chien river, a large body of water separating Vinh Binh and Kien Hoa Provinces on the southern coast of Vietnam). According to Air Force records, one crewman was rescued uninjured, and he was the pilot of the aircraft. Defense Department records indicate that Bennett was the pilot of the aircraft. Bennett's parachute sank before rescue personnel could reach him.
Since the war ended in Vietnam, refugees have flooded the world, bringing with them stories of American soldiers still held prisoner in their homeland. Many authorities now believe that hundreds were left behind as living hostages.
Robert E. Bennett apparently did not survive the events of December 13, 1967. His family has accepted that he is dead. They no longer expect him to come home someday. But hundreds of families wait expectantly and in the special agony only uncertainty can bring. Hundreds of men wait in caves, cages and prisons. How much longer will we allow the abandonment of our best men? It's time we brought them home.