Remains of Navy Flier Returned to His Family

Times Staff Writer

The Defense Department announced Friday that it had identified the remains of Navy Lt. j.g. Robert A. Clark of North Hollywood, missing in action for more than 30 years, and returned them to his family.

According to Defense Department sources, Clark and another Navy flier, who was not identified at his family’s request, took off from the aircraft carrier Midway on Jan. 10, 1973.

Their mission, military sources said, was “to suppress surface-to-air missiles in North Vietnam.”

As the men neared their target in Nghe An province, they were fired upon by some 15 missiles and antiaircraft guns. Clark’s plane, an A-6A aircraft, disappeared from view, and radio contact was lost.


Nothing more was known about the fate of Clark and his comrade for almost 20 years.

But in July 1991, American researchers discovered data relating to the lost plane in a Vietnamese military museum. They later discovered photos of the probable crash site in another museum.

In a subsequent joint U.S.-Vietnamese operation, a witness to the crash handed over what he said were remains of American fliers. Additional remains were uncovered in a 2002 excavation.

Through skeletal analysis and DNA tests, Clark’s remains were identified at the military’s Central Identification Laboratory in 2003. They have been returned to his relatives, who could not be reached for comment.

According to the Defense Department, 88,000 Americans are still missing in action, more than 1,870 of them lost during the Vietnam War.