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The family of a Vietnam soldier believes their son may still be alive.
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:
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:
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:
The photograph had been taken a full year after Curt was reported missing. Wanda Borton was convinced the soldier was her son:
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:
However, Major Dave Greco, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps, believed the Bortons were mistaken:
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:
But for Major Greco, this proved to be an unlikely scenario:
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:
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:
But according to Major Greco, there was a specific reason for the confusion:
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:
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:
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 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:
The next April, Diane claimed she saw Curt again:
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:
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:
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.