Emrich, Roger Gene, LCDR

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Primary NEC
132X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Naval Flight Officer
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1965-1967, 132X, VF-161 Chargers
Service Years
1963 - 1967
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

19 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Nicole Summers, MMFN to remember Emrich, Roger Gene, LCDR.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address

Casualty Date
Nov 17, 1967
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
30E 008

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Gulf of Tonkin Yacht Club Order of the Golden Dragon

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial American Battle Monuments Commission
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2013, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2013, United States Navy Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2018, American Battle Monuments Commission

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar
Naval Flight Officer Wings

 Duty Stations
NROTC (Faculty Staff)VF-161 ChargersUSS Constellation (CVA-64)NAS Miramar
USS Coral Sea (CVA-43)
  1959-1963, 110X, University of Southern California NROTC (Faculty Staff)
  1965-1967, 132X, VF-161 Chargers
  1966-1966, 132X, USS Constellation (CVA-64)
  1966-1967, 132X, NAS Miramar
  1967-1967, 132X, USS Coral Sea (CVA-43)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (65-66)
  1966-1966 Dixie Station, South Vietnam
  1966-1966 Deployment - Western Pacific (WESTPAC) Cruise '66
  1966-1967 Yankee Station, North Vietnam
  1966-1967 Operation Rolling Thunder
  1966-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (66-67)
  1967-1967 Deployment - Western Pacific (WESTPAC) Cruise '67
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (67-68)
 Colleges Attended 
Yale University
  1959-1963, Yale University
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  The Roger I remember
  Service Dates
  Feb 28, 2013, General Photos1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Note: Promoted while in MIA status from LT to LCDR
Incident Date: 11/17/1967
Casualty Date: 10/09/1973 (delcared dead)
Remains: 1973 status: Body Not Recovered. Found later.
Repatriated: 04/11/1995 (Returned to US soil)
Identified: 02/06/1997

He served as an aviator in the United States Navy, Battalion Air Squadron SQ 161, and attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. 

On November 17, 1967, at the age of 26, Commander Emrich perished in the service of our country in North Vietnam. 

The human remains of five American servicemen previously unaccounted for from the war in Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States.

They are Captain William C. Clay, III, U. S. Marine Corps, of Henderson, North Carolina, and Lieutenant Commander Roger G. Emrich, U. S. Navy, of Miami, Florida. The names of three additional U. S. Army soldiers are being withheld at the request of their families.

On April 12, 1967, Captain Clay was piloting an A-4E Skyhawk on a close air support mission over South Vietnam. His aircraft was hit by enemy fire, exploded and crashed. No ejection seat or parachute was sighted by his fellow airmen as the plane crashed. Two joint investigations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1993 and 1995 failed to locate his remains. However, as one U. S. team prepared to leave Vietnam in 1995, they were approached by a local farmer who turned over human remains and associated artifacts. These remains were later identified as those of Captain Clay, and DNA testing was one of the forensic techniques used in the process.

Commander Emrich, a radar intercept officer aboard an F-4B Phantom, was flying a combat air patrol mission over North Vietnam on November 17, 1967 when enemy surface-to-air missiles were fired at his aircraft. The wingman lost sight of Lt. Cmdr. Emrich's aircraft momentarily, then observed it spinning toward the ground. The wingman radioed "bail out," but the plane crashed with its canopies still in place. While evading more SAMS, the wingman circled the crash area twice and observed local Vietnamese surrounding the wreckage. Search and rescue attempts were discontinued the next day because of lack of contact with the crew members. Three joint U.S.-Vietnamese investigations in 1994 and 1995 located witnesses to the crash site, and later found aircraft wreckage and the remains of Commander Emrich.


At age 82, Elmer Emrich got so fed up with waiting for the Pentagon to bring his missing son home from Vietnam that on his own he found the site where Roger Emrich's plane crashed.

"We'd just been letting this thing ride along for too long, thinking the government was going to do something about it," Emrich, now 88, said of his remarkable journey to Vietnam in 1991 with Roger's widow.

Emrich's tale was emblematic of the growing frustration at U.S. recovery efforts felt by many of the families of the 2,127 servicemen still listed as missing in action from the Vietnam War, including Army Sergeant Robert F. (Bobby) Preiss Jr. of Queens, New York.

As first detailed by Daily News columnist Jim Dwyer last week, the Preiss family has been told that fragmentary remains found on a remote hillside in Laos were identified through DNA analysis as Bobby's, but a full excavation of the site was not planned until late 1998 at the earliest.

"I don't know if it's the government's fault," said Emrich's widow, Eva, 54, a travel agent in San Diego. "I think they're doing the best they can, but you can get so disgruntled." She said: "There were so many conflicting reports. There was a question of whether or not Roger was a POW, or died at the scene. My father-in-law needed and wanted closure on this, so we just decided to go."

Because the United States had no relations with Vietnam in 1991, the Emrichs arranged through the United Nations to go to Bangkok, where they were given visas by the Vietnamese and flew to Hanoi.

They timed their visit to arrive at what they believed was the crash site on November 17, the date in 1967 when the F4 Phantom jet piloted by Navy Captain William McGrath and carrying radar intercept officer Navy Lieutenant Commander Roger Emrich, 26, was shot down by a missile. It was also Eva's birthday.

The Emrichs said the Vietnamese were extremely cooperative. "I had these maps with coordinates where we thought the plane went down but they told me, 'We don't need your maps; we know where this is,' " said Elmer Emrich, a retired FBI agent.

With a car and translator provided by the Vietnamese, the Emrichs went to a village about 30 miles southeast of Hanoi, where they found the engines from Roger's plane propped up in front of the town hall as a symbol of local pride. A villager who had seen the plane go down took them to the site in a rice paddy 3 miles away. The spot was grown over, but Eva found a tiny piece of the wreckage to take back to the Pentagon as proof, along with photos of the site.

Still, the Emrichs had to wait until last December before U.S. search teams excavated the site and had a positive identification on Roger's remains. Commander Emrich, a Yale graduate who flew 135 combat missions over Vietnam, will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on May 2.

Ann Mills Griffiths, executive director of the National League of Families of the missing in Vietnam, said the Emrichs are not alone.

"Some of our members are getting so frustrated they're saying 'The heck with it, I'll go on my own' " she said." Unfortunately, they're almost always disappointed. It's not an easy thing to do."

Major Barbara Claypool, with the U.S. Joint Task Force for Full Accounting in Hawaii, said she fully understands the anxiety of the Preiss family. But, she said, the agreement with the Laotians is to search from north to south. The next 40-member search team will go to Kham Muon province late next month for a 30-day stay, and another will go to Savanna Khet province about a month after the Kham Muon team comes out, Claypool said. She said that the site where Bobby Preiss was killed on patrol in 1970 is in Xekong province, two provinces south of Savanna Khet.

"All the families have been waiting for far too long," Claypool said.


From a contemporary press report:


February 25, 1997
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