|Name:||Robert Charles O'Hara|
|Rank/Branch:||Sergeant First Class/US Army|
212th Aviation Battalion,
1st Aviation Brigade
|Date of Birth:||18 May 1949|
|Home of Record:||Lost Nation, IA|
|Date of Loss:||06 February 1969|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
|Loss Coordinates:||162750N 1070238E (YD182212)
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing in Action|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Eugene F.Christiansen; Charles I. Stanley; David E. Padgett; Ronald D. Briggs; Donald E. Parsons and Vu Vanh Phao (missing)|
SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft that was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
On 6 February 1969, 1st Lt. David E. Padgett, aircraft commander; CW1 Charles I. Stanley, pilot; then SP5 Robert C. O'Hara, crew chief; and PFC Eugene F. Christiansen, door gunner; comprised the crew of a UH1H (serial #67-17499) conducting a standard resupply mission in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. Also on board the helicopter were three passengers; Lt. Col. Donald E. Parsons, 1st Lt. Ronald D. Briggs, and Maj. Vu Vanh Phao, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The American passengers were both assigned to Advisory Team 4 and Major Vu commanded the ARVN unit Lt. Col. Parsons and 1st Lt. Briggs were assigned to advise.
At approximately 1100 hours, 1st Lt. Padgett contacted the ground control center at their destination while enroute from Firebase Vandergrift to landing zone (LZ) Tornado. He stated that due to poor weather conditions and equally poor visibility, the flight was returning to Firebase Vandergrift.
The ground control radio operator at LZ Tornado told 1st Lt. Padgett he could hear the helicopter in the distance to the northeast of his location and that it sounded as if the Huey was heading in a northerly direction. When the aircraft failed to return to Firebase Vandergrift, a radio check of all airfields in the region that it might have diverted to in an emergency were contacted, but none could provide information about the missing helicopter.
A coordinated extensive search and rescue (SAR) operation was immediately initiated. Search aircraft continuously crisscrossed the jungle covered mountains and valleys between the last known location of the Huey and Firebase Vandergrift for seven consecutive days. On the morning of 7 February, the day after the Huey disappeared, the onsite airborne command and control aircraft, cal sign "Crown," reported receiving multiple emergency beeper signals several times from the general area south of Firebase Vandergrift in the vicinity where Lt. Padgett's aircraft was thought to be lost. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, Donald Parsons, Robert O'Hara, Charles Stanley, David Padgett, Eugene Christiansen and Ronald Briggs were listed Missing in Action.
The area where the signals emanated from was located in the jungle covered mountains approximately 10 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border, 19 miles southeast of Khe Sanh, 24 miles south of Firebase Vandergrift, 32 miles west of Hue City and 37 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ). A secondary road running generally north/south through the mountains was located roughly 1 mile west of the emergency signals and the mountain top rose up the same distance to the east. None of the SAR personnel were able to identify the source of the signals. Likewise, the cause of the Huey's loss could not be determined.
In December 1979, an alleged "gun-runner", Sean O'Toolis, reported that he had the fingerprints of Robert O'Hara, and that at that time O'Hara was being held near Bong Song, a town located south of Hanoi. Mr. O'Toolis' information was summarily dismissed by the US Government, and both Sean O'Toolis and his information were thoroughly discredited before any investigation to verify his information was conducted. Because of the unwarranted actions taken by the US government, there is no way to determine the authenticity of his information.
If the crew and passengers of the Huey died as a result of their loss, each man has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if the men survived their loss, 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 Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Military personnel 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.