GOMEZ, ROBERT ARTHUR
Name: Robert Arthur Gomez Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force Unit: 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 Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Refno: 1601 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. NETWORK 2001.
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.
Subject: loveletters 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