FULLER, ROBERT BYRON Name: Robert Byron Fuller Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 76, USS BON HOMME RICHARD Date of Birth: 23 November 1927 Home City of Record: Jacksonville FL Date of Loss: 14 July 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 204000N 1060200E (XH076854) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C Missions: 110 Other Personnel in Incident: none
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews, and updated 09 March 1997 by the P.O.W. NETWORK with material provided by Ret. Admiral Robert Fuller, USN.
REMARKS: 730304 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA 31) saw early Vietnam war action. A World War II Essex-class carrier, she was on station participating in combat action against the Communists as early as August 1964. Her aircraft carried the first Walleye missiles when they were introduced in 1967. In November 1970, the "Bonnie Dick" completed its sixth combat deployment and was scheduled for decommissioning by mid-1971.
One of the aircraft that launched from the decks of the BON HOMME RICHARD was the Douglas Aircraft A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was intended to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size, the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and maneuverability were essential.
The Spirits of VA76, assigned to Air Wing 21, reached the coastal waters of Vietnam in January 1967. As the monsoon season faded, the air war's intensity rapidly ballooned and sites in North Vietnam that previously had been off-limits were opened up for U.S. air strikes.
CDR Robert B. Fuller was a Skyhawk pilot and the commanding officer of Attack Squadron 76 onboard the BON HOMME RICHARD. On July 14, 1967, he launched in his A4C on a mission near the city of Hun Yen in Hai Hung Province, North Vietnam. During the mission, as he was just northwest of the city, Fuller's aircraft was shot down. He ejected from the aircraft and was captured. During captivity he was subjected to torture by ropes, leg irons and 25 months in solitary confinement. Fuller spent sixty-eight months in captivity and was finally released on March 4, 1973 in Operation Homecoming.
Byron Fuller was one of the lucky ones. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace.
The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for at the end of a war.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring these men home from Southeast Asia?
During the period he was a prisoner of war Robert B. Fuller was promoted to the rank of Captain.
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 B. FULLER Captain - United States Navy Shot Down: July 14, 1967 Released: March 4, 1973
Born 23 November 1927 in Quitman, Mississippi. Attended first and second grades in Atlanta, Georgia; third through tenth grades in Jacksonville, Florida. Graduated from Emory at Oxford, Oxford, Georgia in 1945. Enlisted in the U. S. Navy and served one year on active duty aboard USS Waldron (DD-699). Upon discharge returned to Emory at Oxford for one year of college. Entered the U. S. Naval Academy in 1947 and graduated in June 1951 and commissioned an Ensign, U. S. Navy. After graduation remained at the Academy during the summer to indoctrinate the incoming plebes.
Ordered to flight training and received wings on 7 November 1952. First squadron assignment was VF-192 Moffett Field, flying F9F-5 Panther Jets. First shore assignment was CIC School at Glynco, Georgia. Second sea tour was Aide and Flag Lieutenant to Commander Carrier Division Seven, then as Operations Officer of VA-SS homeported at NAS Lemoore flying A4's. Second shore assignment was to the Washington area assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel as a detailer in the Aviation Officer assignment branch. This was followed by attendance at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, then to VA-44 Cecil Field as Executive Officer.
Final tour of duty was to VA-76 at Lemoore as Executive Officer flying A-4's Ordered as Commanding Of Officer VA-76 in December 1966. Deployed as part of Air Wing Twenty One embarked in the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31). Flew first combat mission over North Vietnam on 26 February 1967 and was shot down on one hundred tenth mission on 14 July 1967.
Married to the former Mary Anne McGinley from Jacksonville, Florida. Their four children are Bob, Jr.18, Mary Jane 16, Susan 15, and Peggy 13.
Awarded: Silver Star Medal, 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, 2 Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Medal (with Asian Area Clasp), National Defense Service Medal (with Bronze Star), Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (with Bronze Star), Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Air Gallantry Cross (with Silver Wings), Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorius Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Medal Color with Palm), United Nations Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
My statement will be the speech I delivered upon arrival at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville on the night of 8 March 1973. It is as follows:
"America! My America! How beautiful you are! I stand here tonight as a free man thanks to the American people, the love and devotion of my darling wife and mother, and to our great Commander-in-Chief."
--------------------------- Robert Fuller retired from the United States Navy as a Rear Admiral in 1982. He and Mary Anne still reside in Florida. Robert still flys, and enjoys RVing. He and Mary Ann have 4 children and 7 grandchildren.
------------------ Florida Times Union Monday, August 9, 1999
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