BISS, ROBERT IRVIN

Name: Robert Irvin Biss
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 431st TFS TDY 12th TFW
Date of Birth: 2 August 39
Home City of Record: Cherry Tree PA
Date of Loss: 11 November 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170000N 1065800E (YD093804)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Category:
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Missions: 100+
Other Personnel in Incident: Harold D. Monlux (released); Nearby F4C same day:
Richard L. Butt (remains returned); Herbert B. Ringsdorf (released);

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 from one
or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated
by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2011.

REMARKS: RELSD 730304 BY DRV

SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes
around.

On November 11, 1966, two F4C aircraft were shot down about 5 miles west of
the city of Vinh Linh in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. The crew of one
consisted of pilot 1Lt. Herbert B. Ringsdorf and weapons/system operator
1Lt. Richard L. Butt. Of this crew, both were apparently captured, but only
Ringsdorf was released at the end of the war. The Department of Defense
received intelligence that Butt was dead, but evidently did not feel it was
compelling enough to declare Butt Killed in Action, as he remained in
Prisoner of War status for several years.

On April 10, 1986, Butt's remains were "discovered" and returned by the
Vietnamese and positively identified. For twenty years, Richard L. Butt was
a prisoner of war - alive or dead.

The crew of the second F4C to be shot down on November 11, 1966 was 1Lt.
Harold D. Monlux and Capt. Robert I. Biss. Both men were captured and
released at the end of the war.

There is some confusion as to the location of the loss incidents of these
four individuals. While the loss coordinates place all four in Quang Binh
Province, certain records indicate that Biss and Monlux were lost in the
next province to the north, Ha Tinh. Their grid coordinates (YD108825 and
YD093804) are close enough to be all in Quang Binh Province.

Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.

Richard Butt, Herbert Ringsdorf and Harold Monlux were promoted to the rank
of Captain during the period they were maintained Prisoner of War. Robert
Biss was promoted to the rank of Major.


SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

ROBERT I. BISS
Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down: November 11, 1966
Released: March 4, 1973
                      
Major Biss was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on August 2, 1939. He was
raised in Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania and graduated from the Purchase Line
Joint High School in 1957. He attended Penn State University and  then
joined the Air Force in March of 1959. From there he went to Officer school
in Harlingen, Texas as a Navigator  Aviation Cadet. Commissioned one year
later in March 1960, he was assigned to Radar Intercept Officer School at
James Connally Air Force Base, Texas.

After a short training period, Major Biss went to the Dow Air Force Base,
Maine. He flew the F-101  B for the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron out of
the Bangor airstrip. During his stay at Dow he met and married Mary Despres
of Bangor. They have two children, Michele age 9, and Jerry age 7.

In 1963 he left for pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. He
graduated from the flight school and in June of 1964 was assigned to the
431st Tactical Fighter Squadron at George Air Force  Base, California. His
tour also included a side trip for combat crew training at Davis-Monthan Air
Base in Tucson, Arizona. After a three week tour in Alaska with his
squadron, the group left for Southeast Asia  where he flew 57 combat
missions over North Vietnam.

Major Biss returned to George Air Force Base and was upgraded to the front
seat of his F4C. His experience earned him another assignment in the
fighting area at the Cam Ranh Base in South Vietnam. He logged well over 100
missions over North and South Vietnam.

On a strike mission in the southern sector of North Vietnam (there were
three planes in the flight. Number 2 was also shot down that day), he was
shot down. "I could see him, either a 37mm or 50mm anti-aircraft gun. He was
a good shot. I watched the plane go in and it was hit in the belly and in
flames. Harold Moniux, a 1st Lieutenant and only on his 11th mission, was
flying with me that day. He was also my cellmate and we were released at the
same time."

Major Biss, the "war criminal" was issued only the bare essentials. "I had
two sets of underwear, a  towel, a bar of soap, a toothbrush and two
blankets." Aside from the physical tortures that beset him, he could never
be comfortable. There were some planks and a reed mat for a bed. "The
temperature in the room ran 120-125 degrees for 6 months at a time and the
blankets in the winter were not that much help. The cubicles, cells, at
first were about 7 x 7 feet in size. Then as things "improved" a few months
later they put three of us in a cell 15 x 15 feet."

MESSAGE:    I never had any doubts about coming out of it. This is not to
say that things weren't bleak and  desperate at times after the torturous
moments. But I always knew I was coming home.
          
Now that I have returned home my immediate goal is to enjoy life and to
instill a sense of responsibility, awareness and consideration for others in
my children. The inhuman treatment can hardly  be understood by most
Americans. Even though the U.S.A. has problems it is still the best place on
earth  to live. I really don't have much to say for the people who highlight
these problems. It seems that there is  a good deal of protesting just for
the sake of protest. Maybe we all should just look around a bit, and be more
appreciative of what we have.

My immediate plans are to have a 30-year career. If all works out I'd like
to go to the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Alabama. My family
will go with me and I hope possibly to return to college for a liberal arts
education.

Our family is together again. This is the most wonderful thing that could
happen to four people, being brought together after seventy-six months of
total separation. Michele and Jerry got their dad back, Mary-her husband,
and I feel like I've been born again. This time I step into this life with
the benefit of knowing how truly marvelous and great this nation of
Americans is. No words can express the joy with  which I reunite with my
family and greet each and every American with love and thankfulness. Thank
you for the prayers and help bestowed so abundantly upon me and my family
over the years. Thank you for this magnificent homecoming. But most of all,
thank you for the intelligence and courage you had to elect a president who
despite the most difficult circumstances also had the courage and wisdom to
bring a long and complex war to an end.

While the return of former prisoners of war has captured the attention of
the nation, let us not forget those still missing. Please join with me in
praying for a safe and speedy return of any MlAs who may be still alive.

Some war veterans have returned maimed, wounded and sick; still others will
never return. Help me to say to them, "Thanks Yank!"

===================================
Robert Biss retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
and his wife Rita reside in Pennsylvania.

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