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Name: Robert Henry Mirrer
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 05 February 1939
Home City of Record: Newark NJ
Date of Loss: 17 January 1971
Country of Loss: Laos (see text)
Loss Coordinates: 162157N 1075458E (ZD095160)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Other Personnel in Incident:
(backseater rescued)

Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 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.


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.

Maj. Robert H. Mirrer was the pilot of an F4E from the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Da Nang. On January 17, 1971, he was sent on a Strike mission during which his aircraft was hit by hostile fire and crashed. Both Mirrer and his rear-seat Radar Intercept Officer safely ejected over water. Although the backseater was rescued, Mirrer was not located.

According to all Defense Department records, Mirrer was lost in Laos. However, coordinates of loss place the incident about 20 miles down-coast of the South Vietnamese city of Hue, in a large bay. One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that Mirrer's mission (and the battle damage to the aircraft) may have actually occurred over Laos, and he chose to head for open water to facilitate rescue.

According to the Air Force, unspecified evidence was received on March 7, 1971 which indicated that Mirrer died from drowning. His status was at that time changed to killed in action, body not recovered.

Nearly 2500 Americans remain missing or otherwise unaccounted for in Vietnam. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports concerning missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many experts are completely convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive.

One set of critics say that the U.S. has done little to address the issue of live POWs, preferring the politically safer issue of remains return. Others place the blame on the Vietnamese, for using the issue of POW/MIA to their political advantage. Regardless of blame, no living American has returned through the efforts of negotiations between the countries, and the reports continue to pour in. Are we doing enough to bring these men home?


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