The Wall of Faces

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ROBERT JAMES THOMAS


is honored on Panel 1W, Line 95 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance

REMEMBRANCES

  • Final Mission of 1LT Robert J. Thomas

    Posted on 7/19/15 - by wkillian@smjuhsd.org
    Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. On the first day of Linebacker II, December 18, 129 B52s arrived over Hanoi in three waves, four to five hours apart. They attacked the airfields at Hoa Lac, Kep and Phuc Yen, the Kinh No complex and the Yen Vien railyards. The aircraft flew in tight cells of three aircraft to maximize the mutual support benefits of their ECM equipment and flew straight and level to stabilize the bombing computers and ensure that all bombs fell on the military targets and not in civilian areas. The pilots of the early missions reported that "wall-to-wall SAMS" surrounded Hanoi as they neared its outskirts. The first night of bombing, December 18 and 19, two B-52s were shot down by SAMs. Onboard the first aircraft shot down on December 18 was its pilot, LTCOL Donald L. Rissi and crewmen MAJ Richard E. Johnson, CAPT Richard T. Simpson, CAPT Robert G. Certain, 1LT Robert J. Thomas and SGT Walter L. Ferguson. Of this crew, Certain, Simpson and Johnson were captured and shown the bodies of the other crew members. Six years later on August 23, 1978, the bodies of Rissi, Thomas and Ferguson were returned to U.S. control by the Vietnamese. Certain, Simpson and Johnson were held prisoner in Hanoi until March 29, 1973, when they were released in Operation Homecoming. CAPT Hal K. Wilson was in the lead aircraft of a B-52 cell from Utapao. Also on board his aircraft were crew men MAJ Fernando Alexander, CAPT Charles A. Brown Jr., CAPT Henry C. Barrows, CAPT Richard W. Cooper Jr. (the navigator), and SGT Charlie S. Poole (the tail gunner). Wilson's aircraft was hit by a SAM near his target area and crashed in the early morning hours of December 19, sustaining damage to the fuselage. In the ensuing fire, there was no time for orderly bailout, but as later examination of radio tapes indicated, all six crewmen deployed their parachutes and evidently safely ejected. The aircraft damage report indicated that all six men were prisoner. Radio Hanoi announced in news broadcasts between 19 and 22 December that the six crewmen had been captured. When the war ended, however, only four of the crew returned from Hanoi prisons. Hanoi remained silent about the fate of Charlie Poole and Richard Cooper. On March 5, 1996 remains were returned that were positively identified on August 12, 2003. These remains were prepared for a group burial. That internment service took place at Arlington National Cemetery on December 19, 2003. [Taken from pownetwork.org]
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  • I will always love you.

    Posted on 5/13/15 - by Rondey Krieg rondeykrieg@gmail.com
    I met Bob and his wife at Castle AFB n 1971. I was barely 18 and was assigned as his gunner on the training. Being so young and inexperienced Bob supported me at every turn and I looked up to him as only a little brother could. He shared his heart and his family that I might be a better person I love you and always will. I have never met a kinder man and know I never will. Your not forgotten you are in our thoughts and our dreams everyday. I hope I have become half the man you were. Sorry I haven't written sooner but I do want Bob and his family to know that I haven't stopped thinking of them and appreciating them for what they did for me. I completely lost it and went numb when Bob didn't return. GOD BLESS YOU !!!
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  • From a Brother

    Posted on 12/19/14 - by Charles Archie, TSU Rho Psi 1954 archie_c@verizon.net
    Bob and I were at TSU at same time and were frat brothers. An outstsning young man with a future. We talked several times prior his being assigned to Buffs. I flew out of Guam on day three and we two SA2 hits. Luckily we made it to NKP and ejected. Earlyne, I hope you and the family will not forget our hero.
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  • High Flight

    Posted on 12/19/13 - by Scott A. Fitzpatrick
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air....

    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    Your son was very proud of you...God rest both your souls...together
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  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 11/13/13 - by Curt Carter ccarter02@earthlink.net
    Dear Captain Robert James Thomas, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

    May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

    With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

    Curt Carter
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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.