ROSENBACH, ROBERT PAGE Some lists state remains recovered - others MIA
Name: Robert Page Rosenbach Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Reserves Unit: 31st Tactical Fighter Wing Date of Birth: 23 August 1941 Home City of Record: Kirkwood MO Date of Loss: 05 March 1970 Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 131100N 1092400E (CQ266578) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F100D Refno: 1567 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 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 1998.
SYNOPSIS: The North American F100 "Super Sabre" first saw action in Southeast Asia in northwest Laos in May 1962. F100 operations in Vietnam began in 1965, and took part in Operation Flaming Dart, the first U.S. Air Force strike against North Vietnam in February of that year. Further deployments of the aircraft to the area left just five F100 squadrons in the United States.
Various modifications were made to the aircraft affectionately called "Hun" or "Lead Sled" by its pilots and mechanics over the early years, gradually improving night bombing capability, firing systems and target-marking systems. The single seat models D and F were good at top cover and low attack, and could carry a heavy load of munitions.
CAPT Robert P. Rosenbach was an F100 pilot assigned to the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Tuy Hoa Airbase in South Vietnam. On March 5, 1970, Rosenbach departed Tuy Hoa at 0233 hours in a flight of two F100s on a night combat Sky Spot mission over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). His radio call sign was "Litter 4." During the mission, his aircraft lost its UHF transmitter, but Rosenbach could receive voice transmissions from the flight leader (Litter 3) and respond in a limited fashion by depressing the microphone button, transmitting "clicks" to Litter 3. The bombing run was completed without mishap, and the flight returned to base.
About four miles away from the base, with fuel stores low, the two aircraft positioned for a circling approach to the runway. At this time, the flight leader cleared Rosenbach to land first because of his defective radio. Litter 3 was in visual contact with Rosenbach and observed him begin a right bank preparing to land. Base radar plotted Rosenbach's aircraft course shortly after 0430 hours as it overshot overshot the approach and continued in a northeasterly direction. When the aircraft had reached a position about eight miles from the base, over the South China Sea, Rosenbach switched his IFF transponder to the emergency position. Shortly afterward, Rosenbach went off radar and disappeared, indicating that the aircraft had crashed and ceased to move, or continued near ground or sea level so as to be traveling under the radar scope.
At 4:45 a.m. an organized search was initiated using 15-18 Army and Air Force helicopters and light aircraft controlled by a C130 aircraft, as well as three U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese vessels. Electronic and visual searches were conducted over land areas and Navy vessels searched over water throughout the following two days. A 25-mile radius from the last radar contact point was searched without success. (It was determined that, because of low fuel states, Rosenbach would have gone down within this radius.) Searchers found two small oil slicks and one patch of floating debris, but it was determined that they did not come from Rosenbach's aircraft.
On March 5, a beeper (emergency signal) was heard for a short period in the Tuy Hoa area, but it was too brief to pinpoint precisely. However, search and rescue personnel believed that the transmitter was in enemy hands. The search was ended at 2130 hours on March 7, and Rosenbach was classified Missing in Action.
Because of the great number of fishing boats present offshore, it was considered possible that Rosenbach could have ejected and been picked up by Vietnamese unfriendly to the U.S. It was also considered that Rosenbach might have ejected over land and been captured or lost in an isolated area.
In assessing the chances of Rosenbach's survival it was noted that he had the standard survival equipment onboard, including parachute and survival kit with life raft, life preserver and survival gear. He had attended jungle survival school and the waters were relatively calm.
Rosenbach's status was reviewed annually. Over the years, the Air Force held a large number of hearings which made Presumptive Findings of Death (PFOD). Several families had filed a lawsuit to compel the government to advise them of the hearings in advance, and in 1978, Rosenbach's wife was offered the opportunity to attend the hearing for the purpose of presenting proof that her husband was alive. Otherwise, he would be declared dead. Mrs. Rosenbach waived her right to attend the PFOD hearing since she had no such proof, and Rosenbach was declared dead based on no proof he was alive.
Over 10,000 reports relating to Americans still prisoner, missing, or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. since the war ended. Many experts believe that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity today.
For the families of the men who remain missing, every report brings the agony of wondering if their loved ones are alive or dead. There are hundreds of children whose lives are paralyzed in waiting for their fathers to keep a promise to come home to them. There are hundreds of captive Americans waiting for their country to keep a promise to them to bring them home.