ROBERTSON, JOHN LEIGHTON
Name: John Leighton Robertson
Rank/Branch: O4/USAF pilot
Unit: Ubon, Thailand 555th TFS
Date of Birth: 11 October 1930
Home City of Record: Seattle WA
Date of Loss: 16 September 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 211157N 1062558E (XJ487447)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Hubert E. Buchanan (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Update
by the P.O.W. NETWORK March 1997
REMARKS: IN INTERROG PO60 TOLD SUBJ DIED
SYNOPSIS: Maj. John L. Robertson was a highly valued member of the Inspector
General's team that checked combat readiness of the nation's air bases when
he wrote a 28-page letter requesting Vietnam service. When his request was
granted and he was assigned to Ubon Air Base, Thailand, he was so elated
that he did cartwheels and back flips around the family pool.
On September 16, 1966, a four-plane squadron headed from Ubon for a railroad
bridge in the Red River Delta. Robertson's plane was in the number three
position designated "Moonglow 3", and his systems operator on the flight was
1Lt. Hubert E. Buchanan. The squadron came under heavy fire, Robertson's
plane was hit and went down. Buchanan successfully ejected, and was taken
John Robertson's fate is unknown. When he was released in 1973, Buchanan
supplied more information about the events of September 16, 1966. During his
descent after ejection, Buchanan could not see above his parachute (the
back-seater ejects first) to verify that Robertson had also ejected. He saw
a large fire about one half mile away, but could not say with certainty that
it was the plane or jettisoned fuel that was burning.
Buchanan later reported that because the Vietnamese did not display any
strong reaction to the lies he told them regarding his mission, he presumed
that they were only hearing one (his) story. Further, another returned
prisoner, Maj. Douglas B. Peterson, was shown Robertson's ID card during an
If Robertson went down in a burning plane, how did his ID card survive? If
he survived the crash, what happened to him?
The Vietnamese have certain knowledge of the fate of John Robertson.
Robertson's wife and four children still work to find information that will
answer their questions. They wait as sightings of live Americans mount into
the thousands. Barbara Robertson says, "I don't think about if it's Johnny
(that's alive), but rather that there are live prisoners over there. My
husband is so special, but each one of those men is so special, and each one
is someone's husband or father or son."
John L. Robertson was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he
was maintained Missing in Action. Hubert E. Buchanan was promoted to the
rank of Captain during his captivity.
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