HOLTON, ROBERT EDWIN

Member Rank First & Last Name Service Unit Lost Location Accounted-ForSorted By Accounted-For In Descending Order
Capt. Robert E. Holton U.S. Air Force 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1/29/1969 Laos 6/16/2017
Name: Robert Edwin Holton
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 08 April 1941
Home City of Record: Butte MT
Date of Loss: 29 January 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 173230N 1054500E (WE807399)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1368

Other Personnel In Incident: William E. Campbell (missing)


Pre-capture photo

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
NETWORK 2001 with information from Bob Hipps. 2017

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: The F4 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. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
planes around.

Major William E. Campbell was a Phantom pilot assigned a combat mission over
Laos on January 29, 1969. His bombardier/navigator on the mission was Capt.
Robert E. Holton. Their mission would take them to the Mu Gia Pass area of
Laos. (Information from Bob Hipps suggests that Capt. Holton was a pilot,
and not the B/M.)

The Mu Gia Pass was one of several passageways through the mountainous
border of Vietnam and Laos. American aircraft flying from Thailand to
missions over North Vietnam flew through them regularly, and many aircraft
were lost. On the Laos side of the border coursed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail," a
road system heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving materiel and
personnel to their destinations through the relative safety of neutral Laos,
coursing into Laos through the Mu Gia Pass and traveling south. The return
ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far lower than that of those
men lost in more populous areas, even though both were shot down by the same
enemy and the same weapons. This is partly due to the extremely rugged
terrain and resulting difficulty in recovery.

During the mission, Campbell's aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed.
Both Campbell and Holton were listed Missing in Action since the distinct
possibility existed that they both survived to be captured.

Campbell and Holton are among nearly 600 Americans who are missing in Laos.
The prisoners held by the Lao were not dealt for in the peace agreements
that ended American involvement in Southeast Asia. When 591 American
prisoners were released from Vietnam in 1973, no Lao-held American prisoners
were among them. Even though the Lao publicly referred to the prisoners they
held, no agreement has ever been made for their release.

Since the end of the war, over 10,000 reports of Americans alive and held in
captivity have been received by our government. The evidence suggests that
hundreds are still waiting to come home. Detractors say that the U.S. is
ignoring good information on POWs for political expediency; the U.S.
Government says that actionable evidence is not available.

There are nearly 2500 Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Unlike "MIAs"
from other wars, most of these men and women can be accounted for. The
overwhelming priority, however, must be for those who are alive. Every
effort must be made to free them and bring them home.

William E. Campbell, who graduated from Texas A & M in 1952, was promoted to
the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: Duus, Kristen L SFC USARMY DPAA EC (US)
[mailto:kristen.l.duus.mil@mail.mil]
Sent: 28 June, 2017 14:00
To: Undisclosed recipients:
Subject: Pilot Missing From Vietnam War Identified

Dear Sir/Ma'am,

Air Force Capt. Robert E. Holton has now been accounted for.
http://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/Recent-News-Stories/Article/1231982/airman-
missing-from-vietnam-war-accounted-for-holton/

On Jan. 29, 1969, Holton, a member of the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron,
was the pilot of an F-4D on an armed reconnaissance mission over southern
Laos. The flight lead cleared the aircraft to engage a target, and ordnance
was seen impacting the ground. Haze in the area made for difficult
visibility but immediately thereafter, aircrews saw a large fireball on the
ground in the vicinity of the target. The crewmember on another U.S.
aircraft radioed Holton's aircraft but received no reply, and no parachutes
were seen. Efforts to make contact with the crew continued until the
remaining planes were forced to leave the area due to low fuel. Holton was
subsequently declared missing in action.

Interment services are scheduled for later this summer.

For more information about DPAA, visit www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media
at www.facebook.com/dodpaa, or call 703-699-1420.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: Duus, Kristen L SFC USARMY DPAA EC (US) [mailto:kristen.l.duus.mil@mail.mil]
Sent: 14 July, 2017 11:47
To: Undisclosed recipients:
Subject: LOCAL CONNECTION: Montana Airman Accounted For From Vietnam War

 

Dear Editor,

 

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced that Air Force Capt.

Robert E. Holton, accounted for on June 16, 2017, will be buried July 22 in

his hometown.

 

 

Holton, 27, of Butte, Montana, was killed during the Vietnam War.

 

His brother, William J. Holton, also of Butte, is available for interviews

if you would like to contact him at 406-494-5789.

 

The Department of Defense has no photos of Holton on file.

 

/////

 

On Jan. 29, 1969, Holton, a member of the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron,

was the pilot of an F-4D on an armed reconnaissance mission over southern

Laos.  The flight lead cleared the aircraft to engage a target, and ordnance

was seen impacting the ground.  Haze in the area made for difficult

visibility, but immediately thereafter, aircrews saw a large fireball on the

ground in the vicinity of the target.  The crewmember on another U.S.

aircraft radioed Holton's aircraft but received no reply, and no parachutes

were seen.  Efforts to make contact with the crew continued until the

remaining planes were forced to leave the area due to low fuel.  Holton was

subsequently declared missing in action.

 

Between 1994 and 2011, the Department of Defense conducted nine site visits

and excavated sites in both Vietnam and Laos in its attempts to resolve this

case.  In 2014, residents of Boualapha District, Khammouan Province, Laos,

turned over possible human remains and material evidence reportedly

recovered from crash sites in the vicinity of Ban Phanop Village, the area

where Holton's aircraft was lost.  In January 2017, a joint U.S./Laos team

excavated a crash site associated with this loss and recovered human remains

and material evidence. 

 

To identify Holton's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental analysis,

which matched his records, as well as material evidence analysis and

circumstantial evidence.

 

The support from the governments of Laos and Vietnam were vital to the

success of this identification.

 

Today there are 1,606 American servicemen and civilians that are still

unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

 

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account

for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA

website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa

or call (703) 699-1420.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Captain Robert E. Holton, 27

Montana Standard   07/14/17

He was listed as MIA until his remains were found in June, 2017. ... The family would like to thank the Air Force, National League of POW/MIA Families, ...

 

Motorcycle riders from the Montana POW/MIA Awareness Association and Patriot Guard Riders will be part of the procession coming to Butte, and ...