KLOMANN, THOMAS J.
Name: Thomas J. Klomann Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, RAD Unit: 307th Strategic Wing, Utapoa AF TH Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Oak Forest IL Date of Loss: 20 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210500N 1055900E (WJ869477) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D 56-0622, "Orange 3"
Other Personnel In Incident: Paul L. Granger; (released POW); Arthur V. McLaughlin; Irwin S. Lerner; Randolph A. Perry Jr.; John F. Stuart (all missing); from a B52G at WJ692313: William Y. Arcuri; Terry M. Geloneck; Roy Madden Jr.; Michael R. Martini (all released POWs); Craig A. Paul; Warren R. Spencer (both remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 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: 730212 RELSD BY DRV - INJ
SYNOPSIS: 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 military targets in 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.
The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was so successful that the U.S., had it wished, "could have taken the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching them southward."
The operation had its costs, however, in loss of aircraft and personnel. During the month of December 1972, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in 1973. The remains of roughly a dozen more have been returned over the years, and the rest are still missing. At least 10 those missing survived to eject safely. Yet they did not return at the end of the war.
On December 20, 1972, three B52 aircraft departed Utapao Airbase, Thailand for a bombing mission over Hanoi. During the mission, two of the three aircraft were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAM). One of the aircraft, a B52G, contained the following crewmembers: Capt. Warren R. Spencer; Capt. Craig A. Paul; Capt. Terry M. Geloneck; 1LT William Y. Arcuri; 1LT Michael R. Martini; and SSgt. Roy Madden, Jr. SSgt. Madden was the gunner on this aircraft.
The number three aircraft in the flight, a B52D, contained the following crew members: Major John F. Stewart, pilot; Major Randolph A. Perry, R/Nav; Capt. Thomas J. Klomann, Nav; Capt. Irwin S. Lerner, EWO; 1Lt. Paul L. Granger, Co-Pilot; and Chief Master Sgt. Arthur V. McLaughlin, Jr., Gunner.
These two B52 crews met varied fates. On the first aircraft, all but Paul and Spencer were captured and released in 1973. Madden, Martini, Arcuri and Geloneck were all injured; Madden sufficiently that he was brought home on a litter. The remains of Paul and Spencer were returned by the Vietnamese on September 30, 1977, despite earlier denials that the Vietnamese knew anything about the two.
From the second aircraft, only two men were captured and released -- Granger and Klomann. Klomann was sufficiently injured that it was necessary to bring him off the Freedom bird on a litter.
From the two aircraft, Lerner, McLaughlin, Perry and Stuart remain unaccounted for. The U.S. believes there is ample reason to suspect the Vietnamese could account for these men, yet the Vietnamese deny any knowledge of them.
One thing that amazed analysts about the B52 bombers that were shot down over Hanoi during this period was the high survival rate of the crewmembers. Many more were returned as POWs than was expected. The B52s that were shot down were downed in extremely hostile territory with little or no chance of rescue. However, they were fortunate to be captured during a period in which little or no harassment and torture was being experienced by American POWs. In fact, the Vietnamese were, during this time, "fattening them up" for what they believed was to be their imminent release.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that all the prisoners were returned in 1973 at the end of the war. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans still alive in captivity. Experts in the U.S. Government have stated they believe Americans are still being held prisoner in Southeast Asia. The question then, is no longer whether or not they are alive, but who are they, and how can we bring them home?
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
THOMAS J. KLOMANN Captain - United States Air Force Shot Down: December 20, 1972 Released: February 12, 1973
I was born in Chicago, Illinois in December, 1945, and attended St. Ignatius High School and the Illinois Institute of Technology. I took Air Force ROTC and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June, 1968. For my various stages of pilot and navigator training, I was sent to Laughlin AFB and Mather AFB. After completing Navigator Bombardier Training and Survival Training, I was based at Castle AFB and Westover AFB. In September 1970, I became combat ready and was placed on a B-52 crew, remaining with the crew until August 1971 when I was placed on a newly formed crew. We were sent overseas for our first Arclight tour on October 27th, returning to the states in February 1972. Our crew was sent on two more tours, flying out of Anderson AFB, Guam, and U-Tapao, Thailand; then we were called upon to fly among the first B-52 missions over Hanoi. After flying two missions with my old crew, I flew as a substitute on another crew on December 20, 1972. That evening our plane was shot down over Hanoi and I became a prisoner of the North Vietnamese.
Apparently, after free falling 20,000 feet without my parachute deploying, I was unconscious when I landed. I was taken to a North Vietnamese hospital. I didn't regain consciousness for about a week and remained semi-conscious for another two weeks. The delirium resulted in the nickname "Spaceman," as I could not even state my own name. The other POWs had asked the Vietnamese to feed me intravenously, which they did, and also take care of a large bed sores which had developed on my tailbone and feet. They also gave me leg splints to keep my feet from dropping. I spent a little less than two months in Hanoi and was among the first to be returned. I entered the states on February 16, 1973. I asked to be sent to Wilford Hall Hospital at Lackland AFB, where I am still recuperating from my injuries. I hope to attend school and study for an MBA degree. We plan to start a family as soon as my wife's and my lives become stabilized. The result of my experience in Hanoi is that I now have a greater appreciation of my wife, my country and the United States Air Force.
Thomas Klomann medically retired from the United States Air Force as a Captain. At a 1998 reunion, Tom was introduced to the NETWORK as "The POW who came home in a basket." "The doctors told me I was the most seriously injured of the men that returned." The injuries still cause me problems. I faced more surgeries just a short time ago.
Tom was doing fine in 2002. He was building a new home for his future bride. CONGRATS!!
National Geographic Channel - 22 August 2016 – 10 pm eastern – 9 pm central
MEMORIES OF HELL
First American Pilot taken Prisoner in Vietnam recounts his heroic escape
Lt. Chuck Klusmann tells his story and it is worth your time. If it’s past your bed time – please – click the ‘record’ button – you be glad you did.