51 Years Later, Army Sergeant's Remains Are Still in Vietnam

The name of Robert Anspach, a drill sergeant who served with Fort Bragg's 4th Mobile Strike Force Command, 5th Special Forces Group, is etched into the polished black granite of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)
The name of Robert Anspach, a drill sergeant who served with Fort Bragg's 4th Mobile Strike Force Command, 5th Special Forces Group, is etched into the polished black granite of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)

Army Sgt. Robert Anspach will forever be 33.

Fifty-one years after he was killed in action on a reconnaissance mission near the height of the Vietnam War, Anspach's status remains classified as killed in action and body not recovered.

Essentially, he's missing in action.

His body has never been repatriated.

"They've never brought him home," said Cindy Anspach Baucom, his youngest daughter. "People say you need to let this go. We say, 'No,' there's no direction to push but to bring him home.

"It was hard. Everybody else had a dad," she said. "It was very hard."

Anspach, a drill sergeant who served with Fort Bragg's 4th Mobile Strike Force Command, 5th Special Forces Group, is honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. His name is etched into the polished black granite in Washington, D.C.

But back home in Fayetteville, there is no gravesite for family members to visit.

As she has in the past, Baucom said, she will probably put out flags from one side of her yard to the other in honor of her father on this Memorial Day.

He will be in her thoughts.

Baucom was 8 years old when she last saw her father alive, while peering through a chain-link gate of the Fayetteville airport. Glenda Anspach, his wife, had just turned 30.

Robert Allen Anspach had been home on reenlistment leave, and he was boarding a commercial flight for a return to Vietnam. As he was getting on, Glenda Anspach said, Sgt. Barry Sadler of "The Ballad of the Green Berets" fame was disembarking.

Robert Anspach's five family members -- Glenda and their young children, Greg, Sandy, Cindy and Michael -- waved goodbye.

Mrs. Anspach later learned that her husband had told a friend that he felt if he went back to Vietnam again, he would never come back.

His wife never remarried. She is now 81.

"I probably think about him every day. Every other day," she said from Baucom's tri-level home off Village Drive. "It's never far from you."

Robert Anspach was among five service members given special honors on May 19 during the 11th annual Field of Honor ceremony at the downtown Airborne & Special Operations Museum.

Six of his family members attended the ceremony, which was held inside the museum's auditorium because of the rain.

While four U.S. flags were placed up front to represent four of those men during the presentation of honorees, a POW/MIA flag was selected to symbolize Anspach.

"Because he hasn't come home," Baucom explained.

"It's hard," she said. "The other day (at the ceremony) when I heard the bagpipes and saw the flags, my husband said to hold it together."

Her mother, who tends to conceal her feelings, acknowledged that her emotions got the best of her toward the end of the flag presentation for her husband.

Anspach is one of 1,598 Americans still missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia from the Vietnam War era, according to the National League of POW/MIA Families.

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This article is written by Michael Futch from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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