ROBIN RAY YEAKLEY
ROBIN R YEAKLEY
Remembering An American Hero
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, Sir
Final Mission of U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 68-17344
By December 1971, U.S. troops in-country had declined dramatically--from the 1968 peak of nearly 550,000 to less than 30,000. The enemy, temporarily on the defensive by the moves into Cambodia in 1970 and Laos in 1971, began deploying new NVA forces southward in preparation for another major offensive. In March 1972, the Vietnamese launched a three-pronged invasion of the South. One NVA force swept south across the DMZ, its goal apparently the conquest of the northern provinces and the seizure of Hue. A second NVA force drove from Laos into the Central Highlands, and a third effort involved a drive from Cambodia into provinces northwest of Saigon. Fierce fighting ensued on all three fronts, with NVA success the greatest in the northern provinces. Fighting continued until by June, the North Vietnamese began withdrawing from some of their advance positions, still holding considerable amounts of South Vietnamese territory in the northern provinces. On June 11, 1972, Capt. Arnold E. Holm Jr., pilot, PFC Wayne Bibbs, gunner, and SP4 Robin R. Yeakley, passenger, were aboard an OH6A observation helicopter flying from Camp Eagle to the Northern Provinces of South Vietnam on a visual reconnaissance mission. The function of their 'Loach' chopper was searching out signs of the enemy around two landing zones (LZ's). The OH6 joined with the AH1G Cobra gunship as 'Pink Teams' to screen the deployment of air cavalry troops. On this day, Holm's aircraft was monitoring an ARVN team insertion. During the mission, Holm reported that he saw enemy living quarters, bunkers, and numerous trails. On his second pass over a ridge, at about 25' altitude, the aircraft exploded and burned. It was reported that before the aircraft crashed that smoke and white phosphorous grenades began exploding. After the aircraft impacted with the ground, it exploded again. Other aircraft in the area received heavy anti-aircraft fire. No one was seen to exit the downed helicopter, nor were emergency radio beepers detected. In another OH6A (tail #67-16275), 1LT James R. McQuade, pilot, and SP4 James E. Hackett, gunner, tried to enter the area of the crashed OH6A, but encountered heavy fire and their aircraft was also shot down. McQuade's aircraft was hit, and the intensity of the resulting fire caused white phosphorous and smoke grenades carried aboard the aircraft to explode prior to hitting the ground. The aircraft continued to burn after impact and no crewmen left the ship before or after the crash. No ground search was made for survivors or remains of either aircraft because of hostile fire in the area. Between 1993 and 2008, joint U.S.Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams, led by the Joint POWMIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed witnesses, investigated, surveyed and excavated possible crash sites several times. They recovered human remains, OH-6A helicopter wreckage and crew-related equipment, including two identification tags bearing Yeakley's name. Scientists from the JPAC used forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence to identify the crew. Their remains were returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Army Capt. Arnold E. Holm Jr. of Waterford, Conn.; SP4 Robin R. Yeakley of South Bend, Ind.; and PFC Wayne Bibbs of Chicago, were buried as a group, in a single casket representing the entire crew, on November 9, 2011, in Arlington National Cemetery. [Taken from vhpa.org]