• springfield
  • Union
  • December 08, 1942
  • December 13, 1967
  • Air Force
  • RANK:
  • 1LT
  • MIA
  • South Vietnam


Robert E. Bennett III was born on December 8, 1942 to Robert E. Bennett, Sr. and Helen Rath Bennett. Robert Sr. was a WWII veteran.

Bennett entered the US Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps while in Springfield, NJ.  He received an officer’s commission and attained the rank of First Lieutenant (1LT).

Bennett, known to his family as “Bobby” and to friends as “Woody” grew up as an only child in Springfield, NJ. He loved to hike, fish and hunt along the Appalachian Trail and the Delaware Water Gap. He was also a member of the Presbyterian church and played the trumpet in the high school band. He graduated from Newark College of Engineering, where he received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1964. 

Bennett learned to fly through the Air Force ROTC and trained at Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia and Davis- Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, where he began flying F-4 Phantom II fighter jets. Bennett was deployed to Vietnam in June 1967, just four months after he married Shannon, an Air Force nurse. Bennett served with the 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron stationed in Cam Rahn Bay.

Synopsis (from the POW Network) as to the circumstances behind being listed as MIA:

The 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. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.

1Lt. Robert E. Bennett III was the bombardier navigator (rearseat) of an F4C aircraft which was assigned a close air support mission in South Vietnam on December 13, 1967.  His aircraft, the number two plane in a flight of two, had delivered its ordnance and the crewmembers were instructed to drop the canisters in a river. They acknowledged the transmission and immediately thereafter they were seen to eject with good parachutes. The crew ejected due to loss of control.

Bennett and his pilot landed in a river (from coordinates, probably the Song Co Chien river, a large body of water separating Vinh Binh and Kien Hoa Provinces on the southern coast of Vietnam). According to Air Force records, one crewman was rescued uninjured, Captain Sahakara,  the pilot of the aircraft. Defense Department records indicate that Bennett was the bombardier navigator of the aircraft. Bennett's parachute sank before rescue personnel could reach him.

Robert Bennett was listed as missing in action on December 13, 1967.

His remains were identified and returned to his family for burial in June 2012. He was buried on July 7, 2012 in Cedar Cemetery in Montrose, CO. He is survived by his wife, Shannon. Bennett was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, RVN Gallantry Cross, RVN National Order 5/c, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnamese Campaign Medal.

Information provided by POW Network, William Bennett (cousin), various newspapers and NJVVMF.


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