The family of a Vietnam soldier believes their son may still be alive.

A young caucasian man, Robert Borton, wearing a white shirt and a buzzcut.

Robert Borton, Jr.


Gender: Male
DOB: 5/24/46


A man in a plaid shirt is sitting in his living room. He is looking through the window to see two military men approaching the front door.

Robert Borton, Sr. was told his son was MIA

Along with 58,000 who lost their lives, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. also carries the names of hundreds of GIs who are officially unaccounted for. One such name is that of Robert C. Borton Jr., known as “Curt”. However, Curt’s family believe his name should never have been inscribed on the wall in the first place. For Curt’s sister Diane and the rest of his family, they are convinced Curt is alive and living in the United States with a new identity:

“I know my brother Curt’s alive. I’ve seen him on three separate occasions in Washington D.C. And I have not one doubt in my mind that that was my brother and he’s very much alive to this day.”

When Curt enlisted in the Marines, he was 19-years-old. Eight months later, just nineteen days after arriving in Vietnam, he found himself on night patrol near the city of Da Nang. It was not long after that, that Robert Borton received the visit that every father dreads:

“I didn’t know what to think. It really hit me hard. They said he was missing in action, so I had hopes they’d find him right away. And listening to the news all the time hoping something would come up where they’d found him. But they never did. It never happened.”

A magazine clipping of five military men posing for a photo in a field.

Robert’s picture was in a magazine

Two years passed with not a single word about Curt’s fate. Still, the Bortons prayed for a miracle. And according to Wanda Borton, Curt’s stepmother, in September of 1968, one was delivered:

“We subscribe to a Marine magazine and I was just going through it. And all of a sudden I see this picture and it just jumped at me like there’s our son. I wasn’t expecting to see a picture of him. But it was him.”

The photograph had been taken a full year after Curt was reported missing. Wanda Borton was convinced the soldier was her son:

“We took it down to the Marine Casualty Office. And then we got a letter back saying that it couldn’t be him because this didn’t match and that… in other words, they claimed it was not our son.”

Two photos of men that resemble Robert Borton.

Do these photos prove Curt is alive?

Then a few years later, the Bortons came across what they believe was additional evidence. It was a frame from a 16mm film shot in a Viet Cong prison camp in 1968. According to Robert Borton, the prisoner looked quite familiar:

“As soon as I saw it, I said there’s my boy again right there.”

However, Major Dave Greco, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps, believed the Bortons were mistaken:

“Each of the service members in that photograph has been positively identified. We’ve spoken to each one of them. And none of them is Robert Borton.”

If it had ended with the two photographs, Curt’s family might have dropped the entire matter. But, the Bortons say there is much more. According to Robert, in the summer of 1976, he was approached by two strangers who claimed to be agents with the Department of Defense:

“They want to know if for my son’s own personal safety if I’d declare him dead. I said no I won’t do that. They told me I’d get a large sum of money. And I said I’m not concerned about the money… They got in the car and left and they said do not tell nobody… about it.”

But for Major Greco, this proved to be an unlikely scenario:

“We don’t work that way. We do things in a very professional manner. We would not approach someone to elicit them to change their son’s status in the public parking lot of a shopping mall.”

A typed letter, ineligble.

Robert was pressured to sign a waiver

Robert claimed that the two men pursued him aggressively over a period of weeks, always confronting him in a public place. Robert is functionally illiterate, and eventually, he signed their document, without knowing what it said:

“And so I agreed to declare him dead for his own safety. When they told me for his own safety, well then I knew he was alive.”

In the end, Robert received a check for $43,000. The men swore him to secrecy, but he eventually confessed to his family. The Bortons then decided to go to Washington D.C. to further investigate Curt’s case. On several occasions, they were allowed to examine Curt’s official files. According to Diane, the entries regarding Curt’s death kept changing:

“They had him killed in March or April of 1966. In 1967, they have a story of him being with an engineer crew and being killed. They had him killed on paper several times.”

But according to Major Greco, there was a specific reason for the confusion:

“I think a lot of what the families read may be the report of a witness. These people, Vietnam villagers, are remembering things that happened to them 25 years ago. So there are often errors in years. There are often errors in months. Many times they only understand things from the cycles of planting and harvesting crops.”

The Bortons continued to dig for evidence that Curt was still alive. In the process, the family believed that someone was becoming increasingly curious about them. Diane and other family members became convinced that their phones were tapped. One of Diane’s cousins is certain that the entire family was being watched. He asked that his identity not be revealed:

“Every morning there would be a car pull out of the office parking lot and they would follow me in to work. And then I’d find them behind me again on my way home. After that, for about a month and a half, two months, I wasn’t followed anymore. And then we started noticing them again.”

As part of his job in a security company, Diane’s cousin often ran routine credit checks. At Diane’s request, he entered Curt’s social security number in the system and made an unsettling discovery:

“I entered it into the computer and it came back invalid entry. That number has never been issued. That same day, I had left work and was headed home and I was approached by someone. They very pleasantly called me by my name.”

The man was armed and accosted Diane’s cousin at gunpoint. He told the cousin to forget everything he saw and threatened to harm his family if he refused. The man left soon after. According to Diane’s cousin, he was threatened because he had stumbled upon evidence that Curt might still be alive:

“It would seem to fit together that maybe he was used for covert operations. And in order to keep him from talking about these covert operations, he was given a new identity and instructions not to contact anyone from his past.”

It was shaping up as a scenario right out of a Tom Clancy novel. But the most mysterious events were yet to come. In 1990, a full 24 years after Curt Borton supposedly died in Vietnam, Diane moved to a suburb of Washington D.C. It was there that Diane believed she had a chance encounter with her brother at a gas station:

“I was stunned. It was my brother and I couldn’t, I didn’t even have time to react…”

The next April, Diane claimed she saw Curt again:

“We were heading down 395. And a red car pulled up beside us. I looked over and it was my brother. It was the same red car I’d seen at the gas station. He looked at me and he grinned and shot in front of us and like slowed down a little bit. And then I wrote down the license number. And then he sped up and zipped over in the other lane and zipped off the exit which was… at Quantico Marine Station.”

Diane traced the license plate number to a man who lived in Virginia, but he claimed to know nothing about Curt. A few months later, in July of 1991, Diane said that Curt made another mysterious appearance. By this time, Diane said that at least one of Curt’s war buddies had confirmed that Curt was alive, but that he had come home a disturbed and dangerous man. When Diane saw her brother again, she did not approach him:

“I had been told that he was potentially dangerous. I had my two children with me and I just couldn’t take that chance that he could possibly be dangerous and harm my children. I know now that was a mistake. If I had it all to do over again, I would’ve turned around, I would’ve faced him, I would’ve talked to him, I would’ve threw my arms around him and hugged him. But I was afraid.”

Today, the Borton family believes that Curt is or was part of a secret government operation. Diane, in particular, believes that her brother has attempted to contact the family, in order to let them know that he is alive without endangering himself by exposing his new identity:

“I talked to a man who claims to be a secret returnee. He said they were allowed to come back as long as they didn’t contact their families or let anybody know they’re back. The official status was… there were no more live POWs in Southeast Asia. And they couldn’t bring back live POWs when they’ve already taken the stand that all the POWs are home or dead.”

What happened to Curt Borton? Despite the official record, his family remains convinced that he is very much alive, and that one day, he will come home.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. Freddy

    Please update this site.This man was found in 1995.


  2. Jonni

  3. harmonee

    i seen him in st jhons may 22 2022 he was around the jail


  4. thinkingoutloud

    it’s sad to hear, but like a lot of you I don’t think he was ever alive during that time either. there are over 7 billion people in the world, lookalikes are bound to happen. I also agree those photos look nothing like him.

    additionally if he wasn’t able to contact his family, why would he purposely be in their sight and gaining their attention? wouldn’t that cause issues for him? No disrespect to this family and his sister. but if you claim you desperately were looking for answers and to find him, if you saw him in person why not take the chance and approach him or follow him in the car? I know she stated she heard he was dangerous and was worried about her kids’ safety, but if she truly felt that was her brother I would think she would’ve done more than writing down a license plate number.

    sadly he probably died in the war OR if he even came home i’m sure he would’ve stayed his distance. why put himself and his family in more danger?


  5. Kevin

    Sorry, but I take any of the family’s stories with a grain of salt. I can emphasize they want answers so bad and feel for them but it’s almost at the point of delusion.

    First, the pictures do not match up at all. The sister “seeing” her brother both at the gas station, on the road and memorial is just her wanting to believe he is alive.

    The military spokemen is dead on, in terms of covert actions Robert was not, he was a Marine…there’s a big difference.

    Don’t get me even started on the father (who is illiterate) and his story of the men constantly approaching him in public and getting a check of 46,000 that he only told the family about a decade later.


  6. Emma

    I wonder if anonymous is him?!
    I also found this pretty interesting…maybe it’s his son…he is a 3rd and the one missing is a Jr. …


  7. Sara

    @Brittany Howard Please post the info you have here.


  8. Jubilee Nutter

    So many cases like these especially around the Vietnam war. So many grief stricken families. No sure if the military was overwhelmed by the amount of soldiers that were MIA. They needed to provide families with information they May have l not known at the time. It’s understandable that families are struggling with the loss especially without a body. The Vietnam war as explained through history and survivors. It was an incredible strange and upheaval time. So many things going political in our country as well as the rest of the world. This was at a time in our country were people were still dealing with a loss over the assassination of JFK, politically people were fighting amongst direction our country was going and The civil rights movement was taking place. Around the time the family Received the information about Kurt our military was with alliance and directly working with the CIA on top secret missions and programs. It doesn’t mean that every person or case was working as a spy or doing covert operations. This isn’t some conspiracy theory movie were the government is out to get you. It’s a well known fact that the CIA was at the height of their development in the 60’s. They directly were involved with a lot of Government issues and dealings. Given said this family is dealing with someone who left to go to war and never returned. It’s understandable that they would rise questions and may have seen pictures that seemed to resemble their son. As far man approaching the Dad wanting him to sign a paper very strange. He claims this is true and received a check. As far as the sister seeing him on more then one occasion the mind does strange things and she claims this took place . As far as the social security number being ran By the cousin and it came back invalid now that right there is very bizarre and rises a red flag. Why was Kurt social security number not found or invalid??? Why was there inconsistencies with the dates of death. I even researched information and the have dates stating that a him and his platoon/ party were ambushed and killed on 1966 and 1968??? Don’t know if this a typo or misinformation .. what about the other families that were MIA or killed with Kurt??? Did they have any questions or misleadings about the information. How come the family didn’t take the teeth and do their own testing to make sure it was his teeth??? Cause dental records would put that to rest. There are a lot holes and weird elements in this case but those teeth are siting on a shelf somewhere. I really don’t buy into this whole grave robbery thing that the military claimed that’s why they only have the remains of his teeth but I know maybe things could Have happen.. The military and government is at fault for the way they handled The Vietnam war and POW’s. No wonder these families still have unanswered questions. My belief is secrets are buried deep, things misleading, lots shady deals and cover ups within our government especially in the 60’s era. My opinion is that when JFK died the direction of our government took us in a whole new direction that would divide us and the working class would suffer greatly. Prayers for the Borton family they have been dealt with an extremely devastating loss.


  9. Niki

    To anonymous, what proof do you have that he’s alive?


  10. Niki

    Anonymous, how do you know he’s alive? What proof do you have that anyone else doesn’t have?


  11. Bill Blaski

    I can tell u if I agreed not to contact my family after 5 yrs I would. This guy would not have been followed 24/7. He would’ve reached out somehow somewhere. He would have had plenty of time to use a pay phone, or write a annomyus letter. I certainly wish he was alive, but can’t help but to think the most likely outcome is he died defending our country. I salute you! Semper fi!


  12. Brian Lindley

    Uncle posted something on facebook about him. Something about an id bracelet he found in a lake.


  13. Tenarife

    I had the same question that a few of the other commenters had: Why did they simply drop the story about the family receiving a check from, supposedly, the government. What I noticed was the father was the only one that claimed the two men approached him several times and he was the one that got the check in the mail. None of the other family members mentioned it. Where exactly did the check come from? From the government, or from somewhere else, or was it possibly a lie by the father?


  14. Michelle

    Id love to hear what happened or any updates, iv watched and re read the story 4 times . I believe it was him . I am praying for the family.


  15. Kathryn Fanning

    To those who disbelieve Diane’s story, you’re wrong. I know her and believe everything she told me. I also had a number of problems regarding my husband who was missing-in-action (lies/changing stories/someone else’s remains given me from Vietnam/phone taps verified by the telephone company) so unless you’ve been lied to by the government, you have no idea what some of their people are capable of doing. I wish I knew if a secret returnee program was real.


  16. skeptic

    One of my favorite cases. But I find it hard to believe about all this stuff the family say happened to them. If a guy put a gun to you in public surely someone walking by would have seen it and alerted authorities immediately. And how she seen him at a gas station but was too quick to react. This is like people who claim to have seen ghosts but they conveniently “forgot their camera” or something, leaving us to just take their word for it with no solid proof.


    • Pearl

      Lol that was 3 decades ago. Everything as much slower. No cell phones, police didn’t take everything seriously, and of course that was a white guy, which, to this day are handled with white gloves by the police. If it was a black man, I’m sure the story would be very different.


      • Doug Fagan

        Exactly! So if a white guy got a gun pulled on him it would be handled very seriously according to your logic. Cell phones and stuff didn’t exist but we’re all born with eyes. Again, this story is absolutely ridiculous and was conjured by a bunch of circus clowns who think their brother was James Bond


      • Reality Check

        Ha! What a ridiculous reply, Pearl. Curt was a caucasian man and they still managed to make a mess of his case. No straight answers whatsoever, so saying if this was a black man is really stupid. Curt, a white man, still got the shaft from our government. Skin color didn’t matter, doofus. You’re in for a rude awakening when you find out our government lies to us ALL everyday, and couldn’t give a damn about any of us regardless of color.


  17. Hadel Toma

    Our government has been leaving behind pows in the Vietnam and Korean war, ofcourse they would cover this up. Our government murders billions of people worldwide and lies about everything and you people doubt this this story? Are you kidding me we as private citizens need to go find the pows ourselves !!


    • Boondoc

      I so agree the family has the right to know the truth. I feel so bad for the family, I will do anything I can to help this family, no matter what it takes


  18. Anonymous

    If the teeth still remain, can DNA tests be done? Or have been done?


  19. Beccaboo

    I don’t think those photos looked like him at all. Unless he got very tanned. I know his parents are clinging onto hope that it was him. I really don’t believe he is alive, I’m sure the guy looked similar but IMO no not him.


  20. Barbara

    Is there a paper trail for the check?


    • Scott

      That’s what I’ve been wondering. Did he actually receive a check and if so what was it actually issued for. Company who issued it.


  21. Michael Borton

    i would love to find out what happen the night he went missing as im a borton family historian but what is left out of this story is at least some bone remains where identified and return to the family from the military .the family refused the remains and said wasnt enough to prove dead. while i would love to see him have survive the war from records provide by other marines ,the villagers who said the say the vc drag the dead bodies off. and the after action reports i have no doubt the men where killed in a ambush that night ,there bodies taken to frighten villagers and demoralize troops. iam very proud of the Borton family tradition of serving in the military and would never want to hurt family members feelings no matter how many generation separated we are but i truly believe he died in Vietnam withe several of his buddies as his side and the military screwed up the way they handle the issue due to the politically times of the late 60’s.
    i pray his and the other 200,000 plus serviceman bodies still missing from all wars some day make it home. best thing you can due is donate if you have family from any war missing donate blood sample for dna to JPAC’s Central Identification ( )


    • Anonymous

      If it was the American military that accounted for the body, I would be more trustworthy. The Vietnamese military didn’t take much stock in documenting such things. Colin Powell wrote that in a memoir.


  22. Jay J

    Let him rest in peace!


  23. Bill

    There’s only one thing that’s sure about this case — this guy came from an entire family that was blessed with a pretty vivid imagination!

    I am deeply grateful to their son who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. We owe him and his family a debt we can never repay. But that doesn’t mean we should believe these wild stories based on no other evidence than these people’s say so.


  24. Jen

    Remains were identified by genetic testing.


    • Brittany Howard

      Yes the teeth where identify to be his butt you can lose your teeth and still be alive. After I had my children my teeth went cried and I had to have all of them pulled and dentures. That being said how are we to know if they didn’t pull his teeth as for means to try to make the family believe she was really deceased. You can live without your teeth


  25. Anthony Durrant

    I know of a man whose pictures were used to make it appear that a soldier who had gone missing had survived. This man had a strong resemblance to the soldier in question and apologized to the family later on. We could be looking at the same scenario here.


  26. Anonymous

    I believe Robert Borton is Benjaman Kyle.
    Benjaman Kyle (possibly born August 29, 1948) is an American man who is diagnosed with dissociative amnesia and has little recollection of his life before 2004, when he was discovered unconscious in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He is the only American citizen officially listed as missing despite his whereabouts being known.[1] Kyle is white and appears to be in his 50s or 60s.[2][timeframe?] He is 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) tall and weighs 240 pounds (110 kg).[3] He has graying hair with a receding hairline, and blue-green eyes.[2] For many years after his amnesia Kyle was homeless and had been unable to obtain employment as he was unable to remember his full Social Security number.[4] According to a news article dated September 15, 2015, Benjaman Kyle has now learned his previous identity thanks to the work of a team led by genetic genealogist CeCe Moore and has chosen not to reveal it publicly in order to protect his family members.[5]
    He was said to be in Vietnam and I find it weird he won’t reveal his identity to protect his family, and his age guess is not far off from his real age.
    Benjaman Kyle believes that he was passing through Richmond Hill, Georgia on either U.S. Route 17 or Interstate 95 in late August 2004. He may also have been on the road because of Hurricane Charley, which had hit earlier that month.[6]

    On August 31, 2004 at 5:00 am, a Burger King employee found him unconscious, sun-burnt, and naked behind a dumpster of the restaurant.[7][8] He had three depressions in his skull that appeared to have been caused by blunt force trauma and he also had red ant bites on his body. After discovering him, employees called 911, and EMS took him to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah. He had no identity document and was recorded in hospital records as “Burger King Doe”. After the incident, no criminal investigation was opened by Richmond Hill police until a friend inquired with the department in 2007. There were no reports of stolen vehicles in the area[citation needed] and local restaurants and hotels did not encounter any individuals matching Kyle’s description.[7] Two weeks later he was transferred to Memorial Health University Medical Center, where records state he was semiconscious.[7]

    After waking up, when he was asked for his name by hospital staff, he remembers that it was Benjaman, but could not recall his last name. He came up with the surname “Kyle” from his police and hospital placeholder name. He had woken up with cataracts in both eyes, which were not fixed until nine months later when a charity raised enough money to pay for an operation. Upon seeing himself in the mirror for the first time, Kyle realized he was around 20 years older than he thought he was.[9]

    After being released from the hospital, Kyle spent several years between the Grace House men’s shelter and hospitals. In 2007 while at The J.C. Lewis Health Care Center he met a nurse who first inquired about his past history.[citation needed] The nurse helped support Kyle financially while he earned about $100 a month mostly doing yard work. While driving her truck in a yard, Kyle discovered that he still remembered how to drive a car. He was diagnosed with dissociative amnesia in 2007 by Jason A. King in Atlanta. King suggested that Kyle’s amnesia dates from August 31, 2004.[10] Georgia Legal Services were unable to obtain medical records for Kyle because Memorial Health requested an $800 fee. A friend contacted Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston for help with the case. To help with Kyle’s identification, Kingston’s office sent DNA samples to the FBI’s National Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia.

    In 2008 he was invited to appear on the Dr. Phil show. Memorial Health decided to provide select portions of Kyle’s medical records free of charge to the program.

    In March 2011, Benjaman was approached by Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts graduate student John Wikstrom. Kyle moved to Jacksonville, Florida, traveling by foot, in order to be filmed for the documentary.[11] In 2011, with help from Florida State Representative Mike Weinstein, Kyle was able to obtain a legal, government issued Florida Legacy ID. Kyle’s story appeared in a report on News4Jax, which caught the attention of a local business owner who currently employs Kyle as a dishwasher and pays him out of pocket. As of January 2015 he lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida in a 5 by 8 foot air-conditioned shack provided by a good Samaritan.[11]

    Several online petitions have been created asking lawmakers to grant Benjaman Kyle a new Social Security number. In 2012, an online petition was created on the We the People petitioning system on but got only 2/3 of the required signatures by its deadline on December 25 and failed. In February 2015, Colleen Fitzpatrick reported that Kyle had cut off all contact with her when she reported that she was coming close to finding a DNA match.[6] On September 16, 2015 Benjaman announced that his real identity had been found, including his name and family members. He said that he wouldn’t be announcing his name yet for his family’s privacy.[12][13]
    I am fully convinced it is him. His birthday guess was two years off from his real birth year, and his guessed age is two years off, also.


  27. Anonymous

    I also don’t think the pics don’t look like him. The one looks Asian and the other – the man’s face shape is more round in my opinion. That said – I don’t think the family is lying about being approached and it is very odd that someone would pay 43,000 dollars to declare him dead. Also the instances of being followed. Very odd case. Maybe the man’s identity was stolen/used and the family’s constant digging was causing issues. But if his identity was being used why would his social security number not come up – unless the man was given a “new” number so the family couldn’t track it. No matter what though – very very strange experiences the family has gone through so something is going on.


    • JC

      I agree that the photos do not look like him at all. The chin and jawline of each are different
      The eyes and eyebrows are different too. The eyes are similar, but not quite the same. The only thing that looks close to his is the mouth.


  28. LaTasha

    How does the Government deny the men approaching the father but after he signed their document he received a check???? How is it possible that one moment he id dead the next not and when searched a gun is pulled on the cousin. People don’t make this stuff up and the government hides everything in plain sight, wanting us all to believe that they are sincere.


  29. Randall Erwin

    I personally dont think the pics look like the first pic of the actual guy. The second pic loks asian and the third looks hawaiian to me. And neither one has a downward slanting left eye like the original guy, hairlines, eyes, facial expressions etc…


  30. Paulynn

    That sounds like the goverment.I had a male cuz the came back from nam,but never right in the head again. I was told that he tryed to kill his to youngest sisters,so they put him in the vet hospital.but then his mom my aunt sucked at being a parent so that may have had some help also. My parents said the when nam was over and the men came home the were spit on,for what they had to to.maybe one day there won’t be wars.


  31. Annon

    I really want to find out what happened! Most interesting for sure


  32. Annon

    This case appeared in the last week or so on UK tv, freeview, channel 66, ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ series. The case was most interesting, and I did feel saddened for the family concerned, but some of the facts presented in the prog were different to the ones reported in your article.

    Diane’s cousin in fact did get out of his car and ask the guy why he was following him, and the guy sped away, a gun was not seen to be used on the programe when Diane’s cousin was threatened, the guy showed his badge, and said ‘what you did today was foolish, dont do it again’, and finally, the tv prog claims that the car was traced to a person residing in Kentucky state, not Virginia, though licence holder did claim the same that he knew nothing.

    I cant comment on whether the facts were right or wrong on the tv prog, but some points were different.


  33. Anonymous

    Strange things happen in the military all the time. Bizaree cases like this always resurface. For whatever reason this man was reported MIA. All the effort his family made to find out the truth was derailied or the military told what they wanted them to hear. There are to many holes that indicate he did come back to the united States. Why hasn’t he contacted his family remains a mystery. The military is hiding something and they lied to his family. Why put the family through that grieve. I believe his sister has seen him. Why didnt hw reconize her or acknowledge her is also a mystery. There may never be an answer but Thanks to unsolved mysteries this case will be seen. Hopeful the family will find peace..


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