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.