|Name:||Robert Milton Staton, Jr.|
|Rank/Branch:||Specialist 4th Class/US Army|
|Unit:||Company C, 1st
173rd Airborne Brigade
|Date of Birth:||.26 November 1947|
|Home of Record:||Jamesville, NC|
|Date of Loss:||11 November 1967|
|Country of Loss:||South Vietnam|
Click coordinates to view (4) maps
|Status in 1973:||Killed/Body Not Recovered|
|Other Personnel In Incident:||Edwin J. Martinez-Mercado; Gary F. Shaw and John S. Stuckey, Jr. (missing)|
REMARKS: BTL - LFT FR DED - LATR BOD GONE - J
SYNOPSIS: On 11 November 1967, PFC Edwin J. Martinez-Mercado, PFC Gary F. Shaw, Pvt. John S. Stuckey, Jr. and SP4 Robert M. Staton, Jr. were assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. On that date Company C was participating in a search and destroy mission to route communist forces infiltrating into South Vietnam through the southern-most portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.
The area in which Company C was operating was on a high plateau covered in elephant grass and dotted with clumps of bamboo roughly 1 mile south of the junction of Route 512, a major road entering South Vietnam from Laos, that continued east to Dak To; and Route 613, another major road entering South Vietnam from Cambodia. The plateau was also located approximately 5 miles east of the South Vietnamese/ Cambodian border, 7 miles south of the tri-boarder region where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet, and 10 miles west-southwest of Dak To, Kontum Province, South Vietnam.
Company C located and engaged an enemy force of unknown size. During the fierce firefight that ensued, PFC Martinez-Mercado, PFC Shaw, Pvt. Stuckey and SP4 Staton were mortally wounded by enemy ground fire. Following the battle, all four soldiers were examined by the patrol's medic and judged to be dead. Because of the hour and the unstable tactical situation, only the living could be extracted by helicopter from the battlefield leaving the bodies of the dead on the battlefield for later recovery.
A few days later a search and recovery (SAR) team was inserted into the battle site. The SAR team thoroughly searched in and around the area, but were unable to locate the bodies of Gary Shaw, Edwin Martinez-Mercado, John Stuckey and Robert Staton. Likewise, they found no signs of freshly dug graves. At the time the ground search was terminated, all four men were reported as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
For PFC Martinez-Mercado, PFC Shaw, Pvt. Stuckey and SP4 Staton, there is no doubt of their fate. However, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. Above all else, each man has the right not to be forgotten by the nation for which he gave his life.
For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Indochina, their fate 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.