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DPMO Statement on Robertson/"Unclaimed"

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The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) reports that Sgt. 1st Class John H. Robertson, a U.S. serviceman who was lost in the Vietnam War, remains unaccounted for. All claims and alleged live sighting reports related to Robertson have been investigated, and found to be false.

On May 20, 1968, Robertson was aboard a Vietnamese Air Force H-34 helicopter that came under heavy enemy ground fire. The helicopter struck a row of trees, exploded into flames, and crashed. U.S. service members who witnessed the helicopter crash reported that there were no survivors. In 1976, after reevaluating the Robertson case, a Military Review Board changed Robertson’s status from “Missing in Action” to “Presumptive Finding of Death,” which meant that Robertson was deceased.

In 2004, U.S. government officials received alleged live sighting reports including photographs and a videotape depicting an individual who claimed to be Robertson. The individual was interviewed by U.S. investigators on April 20, 2006, and determined to be a Vietnamese citizen.

In 2009, the Vietnamese man was interviewed again by U.S. officials, who collected fingerprints and hair samples for analysis. The FBI analyzed the fingerprints and they were determined not to match Robertson’s fingerprints on file. The mitochondrial DNA sequences from the hair samples obtained were compared to family reference samples taken from Robertson’s brother and one of his sisters. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) determined the DNA sequences from the Vietnamese man did not match either of Robertson’s siblings.

A recently released film features this same Vietnamese individual who continues to allege that he is Robertson.