GOMEZ, ROBERT ARTHUR
Name: Robert Arthur Gomez
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 20 March 1944
Home City of Record: Jacksonville FL
Date of Loss: 23 April 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170900N 1060500E (XD122982)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Albin E. Lucki (missing)
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.
SYNOPSIS: By the spring of 1970, the North Vietnamese had established
substantial missile and AAA sites as well as logistic facilities near
Barthelemy pass, Ban Karai pass and in a sector north of the DMZ. The passes
were of special concern, as U.S. fighters headed into Vietnam from Thailand
were frequently routed through them. Efforts were continually being made to
clear these areas, as well as the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, used
extensively as a supply route by the North Vietnamese.
On April 23, 1Lt. Robert A. Gomez was the pilot and and Capt. Albin E. Lucki
the bombardier/navigator of an F4D Phantom fighter/bomber sent on a mission
which took them near the Ban Karai pass. During the mission, the aircraft
was shot down and both men were declared missing in action. They joined what
eventually became nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos.
In 1973, when American prisoners were released, the families of those men
lost in Laos were shocked to find that not one man had been released from
Laos, although they had been told negotiations had included them. Many knew
their man had survived, some had evidence of captivity.
There has been no negotiated release of prisoners from Laos since the war
ended. The nearly 600 Americans are still there, and tragically, reports
continue to be received that some are still alive as captives. Gomez and
Lucki could be among them. It's long past time we brought our men home.
During the period he was maintained missing, Robert A. Gomez was promoted to
the rank of Captain. Albin E. Lucki graduated from the U.S. Air Force
Academy in 1965.
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2001 10:54:06 -0500
From: "Burt E. Ballentine" <email@example.com>
I was flying cover (F4D, 497 TFS, Ubon RTAFB) in an armed recce mission
behind Albin Lucki and Bob Gomez, both MIA. I watched their F4 drill
into the ground between the roadway and the river just south of
Tchepone. I saw no ground fire, but it was daytime and tracers were
hard to see in the bright light. I saw no parachutes and heard no radio
transmissions. The last radio call from them was that they had spotted
some trucks along the highway and were "up to mark", meaning that they
had pulled up, rolled inverted, and pulled over into a dive attack.
The narrative is incorrect in that Lucki was the front seater and Gomez
was the GIB.
I had breakfast with Bob Gomez before the mission and had been to a
squadron party with him the night before. I am convinced that he had a
premonition of this being his final mission. Bob was quite gregarious,
but these last 24 hours he was very quiet and reflective. We met in the
497th pe shop (where the helmets, G-suits, etc. were kept) to suit up.
When I walked in, Bob was sitting in the floor with his back against the
wall. He was wearing flowered bell bottom pants and he had waxed and
rolled his normally bushy mustache. He looked like he had just gotten a
"Dear John" letter. I stopped by him and asked him if he was ok. His
reply was that he was. I asked him about his mustache, as I had never
seen him that way- he said something about today being a special day.
A few hours later, I watched his F4 fireball into a Laotian field. I am
convinced that he knew.
Burt E. Ballentine, Lt. Col., USAF, Retired.
WOLF FAC, 497 TFS, Ubon RTAFB 1969-70