G015.jpg (12421 bytes)
Name: Robert Michael Gilchrist
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 27 November 1940
Home City of Record: Littleton CO
Date of Loss: 07 October 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 174800N 1062900E (XE572685)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C
Refno: 0486
Other Personnel In Incident: Eugene M. Pabst (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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.


SYNOPSIS: The F4 Phantom served a variety of functions including
fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The
two-man craft was very 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 all altitudes. Most pilots considered it
one of the "hottest" planes around.

1Lt. Robert M. Gilchrist was an Air Force pilot who flew a reconnaissance
version of the Phantom, the RF4C. On October 7, 1966, Gilchrist and his
backseater, 1Lt. Eugene M. Pabst were sent on a reconnaissance mission over
North Vietnam near the city of Ba Don.

During the mission, Gilchrist's aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed.
Both men were listed as Missing In Action. The U.S. believes that the
Vietnamese could account for both of them.

Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, tens of thousands of refugees have fled
Southeast Asia bringing with them stories of Americans still held in
communist prisons. To date, the U.S. Government maintains that none of the
reports can be verified, although intelligence assets are "fully focused" on
the region.

Whether Gilchrist and Pabst survived to be captured is unknown. But it seems
clear that hundreds of Americans are still alive, waiting to come home. Men
like Gilchrist and Pabst become the leaders of our nation. We must find the
formula to free them. We cannot afford to abandon our best.

Robert M. Gilchrist graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1963.

Robert M. Gilchrist and Eugene M. Pabst were promoted to the rank of Major
during the period they were maintained Missing in Action.




Return to Service Member Profiles

On October 7, 1966, an F-4C Phantom II (tail number 637486) with two crew members took off as the second in a flight of two aircraft on a strike mission against enemy targets in North Vietnam. While attacking the target, the lead aircraft in the flight dropped flares then pulled up to observe this Phantom making its attack run. During the run, the lead aircraft witnessed rocket fire from this Phantom, then a fireball in the area where the aircraft should have begun to pull out from its dive. Upon further investigation of the area, the flight leader saw a fan-shaped fire in the vicinity of (GC) 48Q XE 572 685, where the pull out should have been. Search and rescue teams searched the area but saw no parachutes and detected no rescue beepers, neither of the Phantom's two crew members could be located following the incident. 

First Lieutenant (1st Lt) Robert Michael Gilchrist entered the U.S. Air Force from Colorado and served in the 431st Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was the aircraft commander aboard this Phantom and was lost along with the aircraft. Attempts to recover his remains were unsuccessful. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted 1st Lt Gilchrist to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Gilchrist is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

Service member profile discrepancy? Please help us ensure the accuracy of each profile by submitting documentation about a service member profile.