|Name:||Michael Leroy Batt|
|Rank/Branch:||Sergeant First Class/US Army|
Command Liaison Detachment,
US Army Republic of Vietnam
|Date of Birth:||30 May 1947|
|Home of Record:||Defiance, OH|
|Date of Loss:||16 March 1969|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view (4) maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Marvin L. Foster; David R. Smith; Charles R. Barnes; Raymond E. Bobe (missing)|
SYNOPSIS: The Beech U21A was a low-wing, twin engine executive aircraft used primarily for liaison flights for staff-level personnel that served with the Pacific Air Forces in Vietnam. The US Army also used it as a personnel and light cargo transport before it was reassigned to Air America, the CIA airline in Southeast Asia.
On 16 March 1969, Capt. David R. Smith, pilot; and Capt. Charles Barnes, co-pilot; comprised the crew of a U21A on a morning administrative flight that departed Qui Nhon enroute to Hue/Phu Bai Airfield, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. Also aboard were three passengers: Then SP4 Michael L. Batt and PFC Raymond E. Bobe who were assigned to Liaison Detachment, Headquarters US Army, Vietnam; and Major Marvin L. Foster who was on temporary assignment to Liaison Detachment, Headquarters, US Army, Vietnam.
During this mission, the aircrew was required to navigate by using only instruments rather than visual flight due to low cloud ceilings, poor visibility and rain showers. The U21A was scheduled to land at 1015 hours. As it approached Hue/Phu Bai Airfield on schedule, it was picked up by radar. The control tower approved Capt. Smith for an immediate landing from southwest to northeast instead of having them enter the traffic pattern with other aircraft that were preparing to land. According to personnel on the ground who were waiting to pick up Major Foster, SP4 Batt and PFC Bobe; the U21A came in too fast and could not stop before running out of runway. Capt. Smith and Capt. Barnes added power to take off and the aircraft was observed pulling up and to the right in order to enter the airfield's landing traffic pattern. Unfortunately, the U21A disappeared before it could come around for a second landing attempt.
After the Hue/Phu Bai tower lost contact with the U21A, all standard emergency radio frequencies were used, but radio operations were also limited by the bad weather. Search and rescue (SAR) efforts were immediately initiated, but were also hampered by the weather. SAR personnel were unsuccessful in locating any trace of the down aircraft, or its crew and passengers. At the time formal search efforts were terminated, Raymond E. Bobe; Marvin L. Foster; David R. Smith; Michael L. Batt and Charles R. Barnes were listed Missing in Action.
The aircraft's last known position placed it on the north side of the rugged jungle mountains located approximately 10 miles south of the Hue/Phu Bai airfield, 6 miles southwest of Highway 1 and the railroad line that ran along side the highway. It was also 2 miles east of a second major road running north/south that branched off of Highway 1 about 5 miles south of the airfield.
If the crew and passengers aboard the U21A died in their loss incident, they have a right to have their remains returned to their families, friends and country. However, if they survived, they most certainly could have been captured due to the fact that enemy troops were known to be actively operating in this region. Their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.
Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Military men in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.