Remains Returned - ID Announced 01 August 1989

Name: Bobby Alexander Kirby
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: TDY to 72 Strat Wing, Anderson AFB Guam
Date of Birth: 11 July 1931
Home City of Record: Atlanta GA
Date of Loss: 21 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 211500 1054600 (WJ795497)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52

Other Personnel In Incident: Charles E. Darr; (missing); James L. Lollar
(returned POW); Randall J. Craddock; George B. Lockhart; Ronald D. Perry
(remains returned)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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.


SYNOPSIS: On December 21, 1972, a B52 bomber from the 72nd Strat Wing, Anderson
AFB Guam, was sent on a bombing mission during the famed Christmas Bombings
during that month. By the 21st, when the B52 departed for the Hanoi region, 8
B52's and several fighter bombers had been lost since December 18, and 43 flyers
had been captured or killed during the same period.

The Christmas Bombings, despite press accounts to the contrary, were of the most
precise the world had seen. Pilots involved in the immense series of strikes
generally agree that the strikes against anti-aircraft and strategic targets was
so successful that the U.S., had it desired, "could have taken the entire
country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in Hanoi and marching
them southward."

A very high percentage of B52 aircrew were captured immediately and returned in
1973, a much higher percentage than strategists imagined. Beyond that number,
several were known to have made it safely to the ground, yet did not return for
unknown reasons.

When the B52 from 72 Strat Wing, Guam was hit by a surface-to-air missile in the
early hours of December 21, 1972, the fate of the crewmembers was varied.
Multiple emergency beepers were heard by aircraft in the area, indicating that
several of the crew members had safely bailed out of the crippled aircraft.

James Lollar was captured and subsequently released in March the following year.
The U.S. did not know he had been captured.

Ronald Perry's remains were returned exactly 3 years to the day from the day he
was shot down. The remains of Randall J. Craddock, Bobby A. Kirby, George B.
Lockhart and Charles E. Darr were returned six days short of the sixteenth
anniversary of their shoot-down. The positive identifications of the second
group to be returned was announced in August 1989.

Another returned POW, Ernest Moore, mentioned that he believed Darr had been
held at the "Zoo" in Hanoi, but the U.S. never changed Darr's status from
Missing to Prisoner. There is every reason to suspect the Vietnamese knew what
happened to all the crewmembers, but especially Charles E. Darr.

Whose radios beeped in distress from the ground that day in December 1972? When
and how did Bobby Kirby, Randall Craddock, Charles Darr, Ronald Perry and George
Lockhart die? If any of them were prisoners of war, why did we allow the
Vietnamese wait 16 years to return their remains?

George Barry Lockhart is a 1969 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.