November 28, 1972, Jack Harvey and Bobby Jones were flying an F4D Phantom jet on a
non-combat flight from their base at Udorn, Thailand to Da Nang, South Vietnam. The
purpose of the mission was to log flight hours for Jones, the only Flight Surgeon missing
from the Vietnam War, to maintain his Flight Surgeon status.
Shortly before arriving at Da Nang, when the aircraft was about 18 miles northwest of its
destination, it disappeared from the radar screen without any voice contact. A few hours
later, emergency signals were heard, but rescue efforts were hampered by monsoon rains and
enemy held territory. When search teams were able to enter the area three days later, they
did not locate the crew of the F4D. No further word has surfaced on either Harvey or
Examination of intelligence reports indicate that there was more than one prison
"system" in Vietnam. Those prisoners who were released in 1973 were maintained
in the same systems. If Jones was captured and kept in another system, the POWs who
returned did not know it.
Now, nearly 20 years later, men like Jones are all but forgotten except by friends, family
and fellow veterans. The U.S. "priority" placed on determining their fates pales
in comparison to the results it has achieved. Since Jones went missing, over 6000 reports
have been received by the U.S. that Americans are still being held captive in Southeast
Asia. Whether Jones is among them is not known. What is certain, however, is that we, as a
nation, are guilty of the abandonment of nearly 2500 of our best and most courageous men.
We cannot forget, and must do everything in our power to bring these men home. .
Mission to Vietnam gets personal
By RON MARTZ
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/24/07
Dalton - On three previous trips to Southeast Asia over the past two
decades, Jo Anne Shirley didn't have problems keeping her emotions in check
about the brother who disappeared in Vietnam nearly 35 years ago.
But on those occasions, Shirley was part of large, formal delegations
pressing diplomatic initiatives to persuade reluctant governments to provide
more information on American service members still unaccounted for as a
result of the Vietnam War.
Charlotte B. Teagle/Staff
'She's not timid a bit. She'll stand up to any general,' said
Christine Jones (right) about her daughter, Jo Anne Shirley. Shirley
leads a four-person group to Vietnam next month.
Charlotte B. Teagle/Staff
Wearing bracelets with Dr. Bobby Jones' name on them are Christine
Jones (hands on left), Jones' mother, and Jo Anne Shirley, his
sister. The Air Force major was a passenger in a two-seat F-4
Phantom jet that disappeared near Da Nang on Nov. 28, 1972.
Next month, the self-described "housewife from Georgia" will lead a
four-person group - all relatives of men still missing - into the region to
make a more personal and emotional appeal on an issue that has largely lost
the attention of America.
"This issue can get so emotional at times it gets totally consuming,"
Shirley said recently at her Dalton home as she discussed the pending trip.
What will make this visit even more emotional for Shirley is that she will
visit a crash site excavation near where her brother disappeared.
Dr. Bobby Jones of Macon, an Air Force major, was a passenger in a two-seat
F-4 Phantom jet that disappeared near Da Nang, in what was then South
Vietnam, on Nov. 28, 1972. He is the only physician among the missing.
Shirley, now 59, was 25 when her brother was lost. Since then, she has
gotten progressively more active in demanding an accounting, not only for
her brother, but also for the 1,788 Americans still missing in Southeast
Asia, 34 from Georgia. She now leads the board of the National League of
Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.
"She's not timid a bit. She'll stand up to any general," said Shirley's
mother, Christine Jones, also of Dalton. Although Jones is now 90, she
remains active in the search for information about her missing son,
attending yearly meetings of the National League of Families and offering
daily encouragement to her daughter.
The two-week trip will take the group to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, where
the four relatives will meet with government officials and private citizens
and appeal to them to be more cooperative in the ongoing search for remains.
"I'm hoping the emotional appeal will help in some cases," Shirley said.
But she stressed that the four will not focus on the individual cases of
their missing relatives, two of whom disappeared in Vietnam and two in Laos.
"We're going representing all the families," she said.
The trip comes just four months after President Bush's November visit to
Vietnam, the first by an American president since the war. While Bush
pressed for better business ties between Vietnam and the United States,
families of the missing men believe the more government-to-government
accommodations that are made, the less leverage they have.
"That leaves us with very little to use to convince them to do what they can
do and what we know they can do," Shirley said.
Nevertheless, Shirley said she and her group will make personal appeals to
officials with the three governments for better access to previously
off-limits areas, including official archives, and providing more
information about the nearly 200 Americans known to be alive at the end of
the war but never accounted for. She also plans to press the Vietnamese to
follow through on a previous agreement to let U.S. Navy ships assist in
underwater searches for downed planes off the coast.
The trip will not be cheap. Shirley estimates it will cost $10,000 to
$12,000 for each of the four, all of which has to be raised from private
money or donations.
A nonprofit group, the Georgia Committee for POW/MIA, is helping Shirley
raise money. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the group in care of
Tommy Clack, 1329 Portman Drive, Suite A, Conyers, Ga. 30094.
Since the end of the war, 795 sets of remains have been recovered from
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and identified through a U.S. government agency
now known as the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command based in Hawaii.
But Shirley said more can be done.
"I believe in my heart we can still account for hundreds of Americans from
the Vietnam War," she said.