ROBERTS, HAROLD JAMES JR.
Name: Harold James Roberts, Jr. Rank/Branch: E7/US Air Force Unit: 441st Bombardment Squadron Date of Birth: 16 July 1921 Home City of Record: Portland OR Date of Loss: 18 June 1965 Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 173000N 1180000E Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 5 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52 Refno: 2032
Other Personnel in Incident: James A. Marshall; James M. Gehrig Jr.; Tyrrell G. Lowry; William E. Neville; Robert L. Armond; Frank P. Watson (all missing) Joe Carrol Robertson, Capt, KIA.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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 2010.
SYNOPSIS: Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers have long been the Air Force's most important strategic bomber. Used heavily in Vietnam, the venerable aircraft continued its role throughout the Southeast Asia conflict and played an important role in the Persian Gulf war two decades later.
On June 18, 1965, two B52 aircraft were performing a mission over the South China Sea when they collided. The aircraft were approximately 250 miles offshore at the point of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) when the accident occurred. Apparently the crew of one of the aircraft survived or were recovered, but the entire crew of the second remain missing.
The missing crew includes pilots Capt. Robert L. Armond and 1Lt. James A. Marshall, and crewmembers Maj. James M. Gehrig, Capt. Tyrrell G. Lowry, Capt. Frank P. Watson, TSgt. William E. Neville, and MSgt. Harold J. Roberts Jr.
All the crew and passengers on board the B52 downed that day were confirmed dead. It is unfortunate, but a cold reality of war that their remains were not recoverable. They are listed with honor among the missing because their remains cannot be buried with honor at home.
Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.
Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.
Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?
Subject: 18 Jun 65 MIA/POW List Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2000 13:22:57 GMT From: "D C Macdonald" <email@example.com>
I found your list of POW/MIAs. I checked the date of 18 Jun 65 and found eight names. I believe all eight to be the victims of the mid-air crash between two B-52F bombers of the 320th Bomb Wing (H) from Mather AFB, CA. The first man listed, Bob Armond, was a friend of mine and had been my instructor. Eight men perished in the crash. Five of twelve crew aboard the two aircraft were known to have ejected, but one died in the sea of injuries after his ejection. Just thought you might wish to have updated information.
The B-52 aircraft I was on (from 7th Bomb Wing (H) at Carswell AFB, TX) during this first-ever B-52 raid was on the same track directly 50 miles or so behind the ill-fated crews and my pilot and copilot saw the explosion. As the EWO, I had no visibility outside the aircraft.
BTW, the Electronic Warfare Officer Training Building at Mather AFB, CA (now deactivated) was named for Bob Armond after his loss on that first "Arc Light" mission.
My son-in-law went through navigator training at Mather about 1987 and went on a visit to the Armond building. He found my class picture in the "rogue's gallery" on the walls and said that my son (now a USAF helo pilot) looked just like me.
Donald C Macdonald Jr, Capt USAF (retired)
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 12:26:38 -0800
Subject: ROBERTS, HAROLD JAMES JR.
I came across your bio of TSgt Roberts at
I flew on that mission that day, and your remarks don't have the story quite right. This was the very first B-52 combat strike ever, carried out by 30 B-52s grouped in 10 cells of 3 aircraft each. Through a combination of circumstances, including an ill-conceived air refueling rendezvous plan, one cell elected to make a 360-degree turn for timing purposes and ended up flying head-on through a following cell. Two aircraft collided at a closing speed of about 1000 MPH, the wing of one striking the vertical stabilizer of the other, slicing off both. They went down off the northern end of the Philippines, nowhere near the DMZ.
There were survivors and missing from both aircraft, and one confirmed fatality. Bob Armond was an Electronic Warfare Officer, not a pilot -- Jim Gehrig was the pilot on his crew. Joe Robertson was the pilot on the other crew; he ejected but was severely injured in the process, and did not survive. Don Harten, surviving copilot, has written an excellent book entitled Arc Light One about this incident and the events leading up to and following it.
I didn't check, but I imagine these corrections may apply to bios for others missing in this incident: James A. Marshall; James M. Gehrig Jr.; Tyrrell G. Lowry; William E. Neville; Robert L. Armond; Frank P. Watson.