GREGORY, ROBERT RAYMOND Remains Returned 02 March 1988, ID'd 09 June 1988 Name: Robert Raymond Gregory Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Udorn Airbase, Thailand 11th TRS Date of Birth: 22 March 1932 Home City of Record: Cape Girardeau, MO Date of Loss: 02 December 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 210124N 1055059E (XJ034923) Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C Other Personnel in Incident: Leroy W. Stutz (released POW) Missions: 65 Source: Compiled by Hoemcoming II and the P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: POSS DIC SYNOPSIS: Robert Gregory was born to a poor family in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and had little time for the games of children. When "Greg" (or "Bobby") did act more like a youth, his idea of fun was sometimes a bit ambitious for his buddies. "He liked to swim across the Mississippi River, rest and swim back," recalls a neighbor. "He was sort of a modern-day Huckleberry Finn." Another friend verifies the story and adds, "...he was kind of the leader of our group." Gregory and a friend lied about their age to join the National Guard. Despite lacking a college career behind him, Gregory ultimately achieved his goal of becoming an Air Force officer. On leave in 1958, he eloped with Marjorie Fisher, a 14-year old girl from a large family in Bell City, Missouri. Marjorie followed Gregory to assignments in England and Germany. They had two children, and, as Marjorie says, "We were a pretty happy family. We had a lot of plans." Leroy Stutz and Bob Gregory had been paired as a crew together since Sept. 1965 when they went through the RF-4C check out school at Shaw AFB. They were then paired as a crew in the 9th TAC Recce Sq at Shaw after completing the check out. In July 1966, they were deployed from Shaw AFB to Udorn Thailand, assigned to fly a reconnaissance version of the Phantom F4 fighter/bomber, the RF-4C. They were on their 65th mission into North Vietnam when they were shot down. Stutz spent his boyhood years on a farm in northeast Kansas, and, following high school, farmed with his brother-in-law for two years. Stutz joined the Kansas National Guard, and attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Stutz was subsequently appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where "Elroot" graduated in 1964. After flight training and reconnaissance photo training, Stutz was promoted to First Lieutenant and shipped to Vietnam. On December 2, 1966, Gregory and Stutz were assigned a 55 minute photo reconnaissance mission over Hanoi, North Vietnam. During a pass over their target, their aircraft was hit, and the two ejected as their aircraft crashed in the outskirts of Hanoi. After landing, the two established voice contact with each other, and both were captured. Stutz said that he had seen Bob Gregory several times the day of their capture, but Gregory was unconsicous. Both men were transported to the Hoa Lo detention facility ("Hanoi Hilton") in Hanoi in the same truck and arrived on the same day they were shot down. Stutz never saw Gregory again. Stutz' wife Karen and their young son waited for his return. Marjorie and her son and daughter also waited. The Air Force showed Marjorie blurred, blown-up photos they thought was her husband in captivity. In March 1973, Leroy Stutz was released from Hanoi, one of almost 600 Americans who were freed at the time. Military experts expressed their dismay that "hundreds" thought to be prisoners were not released, and were named on no list provided by the Vietnamese. Reports soon began to flow into the U.S. intelligence community relating to these men. A significant number of them indicated that Americans could still be alive in captivity. Marjorie did the best she could with her life and her children. She never gave up hope that one day, her "doorbell would ring one of these days. He wouldn't mark me off if I were missing." In 1987, Robert Gregory's photo and story was published in Life Magazine. By then, Gregory had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. The Kansas City Times ran an extensive article on Gregory and his family in late November 1987. In both articles, Gregory was identified as a captive by his back-seater. Just over 3 months later, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of LtCol. Robert R. Gregory and returned them to U.S. control. The pain that Marjorie and her children had experienced for 22 years could finally be laid to rest with her husband. But the questions will never end. They may never how - or when - he died. The Stutz family had a joyful homecoming. The Gregory family's homecoming was quite different. Over 2000 other families still wait for word of their loved one, haunted by the still-flowing reports that Americans are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia. Robert R. Gregory was buried at Cape County Memorial Park attended by an honor guard from the Roth-Gregory Air Force ROTC unit from Southeast Missouri State University, which had been named in his honor and that of a World War II pilot. A Missing Man formation was flown by four RF4C fighter jets. Leroy William Stutz graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1964.