KLOMANN, THOMAS J.
|Name: Thomas J. Klomann
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, RAD
Unit: 307th Strategic Wing, Utapoa AF TH
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Oak Forest IL
Date of Loss: 20 December 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210500N 1055900E (WJ869477)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D 56-0622, "Orange 3"
Other Personnel In Incident: Paul L. Granger; (released POW); Arthur V.
McLaughlin; Irwin S. Lerner; Randolph A. Perry Jr.; John F. Stuart (all
missing); from a B52G at WJ692313: William Y. Arcuri; Terry M. Geloneck; Roy
Madden Jr.; Michael R. Martini (all released POWs); Craig A. Paul; Warren R.
Spencer (both remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 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 2018.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV - INJ
SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and
pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American
involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air
offensive of the war, known as Linebacker II, in December 1972. During the
offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs
were dropped, primarily over military targets in the area between Hanoi and
Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing
would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally
recognized cease-fire was in force.
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 wished, "could have taken
the entire country of Vietnam by inserting an average Boy Scout troop in
Hanoi and marching them southward."
The operation had its costs, however, in loss of aircraft and personnel.
During the month of December 1972, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot
down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in
1973. The remains of roughly a dozen more have been returned over the years,
and the rest are still missing. At least 10 those missing survived to eject
safely. Yet they did not return at the end of the war.
On December 20, 1972, three B52 aircraft departed Utapao Airbase, Thailand
for a bombing mission over Hanoi. During the mission, two of the three
aircraft were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAM). One of the
aircraft, a B52G, contained the following crewmembers: Capt. Warren R.
Spencer; Capt. Craig A. Paul; Capt. Terry M. Geloneck; 1LT William Y.
Arcuri; 1LT Michael R. Martini; and SSgt. Roy Madden, Jr. SSgt. Madden was
the gunner on this aircraft.
The number three aircraft in the flight, a B52D, contained the following
Major John F. Stewart, pilot;
Major Randolph A. Perry, R/Nav;
Capt. Thomas J. Klomann, Nav;
Capt. Irwin S. Lerner, EWO;
1Lt. Paul L. Granger, Co-Pilot; and
Chief Master Sgt. Arthur V. McLaughlin, Jr., Gunner.
These two B52 crews met varied fates. On the first aircraft, all but Paul
and Spencer were captured and released in 1973. Madden, Martini, Arcuri and
Geloneck were all injured; Madden sufficiently that he was brought home on a
litter. The remains of Paul and Spencer were returned by the Vietnamese on
September 30, 1977, despite earlier denials that the Vietnamese knew
anything about the two.
From the second aircraft, only two men were captured and released -- Granger
and Klomann. Klomann was sufficiently injured that it was necessary to bring
him off the Freedom bird on a litter.
From the two aircraft, Lerner, McLaughlin, Perry and Stuart remain
unaccounted for. The U.S. believes there is ample reason to suspect the
Vietnamese could account for these men, yet the Vietnamese deny any
knowledge of them.
One thing that amazed analysts about the B52 bombers that were shot down
over Hanoi during this period was the high survival rate of the crewmembers.
Many more were returned as POWs than was expected. The B52s that were shot
down were downed in extremely hostile territory with little or no chance of
rescue. However, they were fortunate to be captured during a period in which
little or no harassment and torture was being experienced by American POWs.
In fact, the Vietnamese were, during this time, "fattening them up" for what
they believed was to be their imminent release.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that all the prisoners were returned in
1973 at the end of the war. Since the end of the war, thousands of reports
have been received by the U.S. Government relating to Americans still alive
in captivity. Experts in the U.S. Government have stated they believe
Americans are still being held prisoner in Southeast Asia. The question
then, is no longer whether or not they are alive, but who are they, and how
can we bring them home?
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
THOMAS J. KLOMANN
Captain - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 20, 1972
Released: February 12, 1973
I was born in Chicago, Illinois in December, 1945, and attended St. Ignatius
High School and the Illinois Institute of Technology. I took Air Force ROTC
and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June, 1968. For my various
stages of pilot and navigator training, I was sent to Laughlin AFB and
Mather AFB. After completing Navigator Bombardier Training and Survival
Training, I was based at Castle AFB and Westover AFB. In September 1970, I
became combat ready and was placed on a B-52 crew, remaining with the crew
until August 1971 when I was placed on a newly formed crew. We were sent
overseas for our first Arclight tour on October 27th, returning to the
states in February 1972. Our crew was sent on two more tours, flying out of
Anderson AFB, Guam, and U-Tapao, Thailand; then we were called upon to fly
among the first B-52 missions over Hanoi. After flying two missions with my
old crew, I flew as a substitute on another crew on December 20, 1972. That
evening our plane was shot down over Hanoi and I became a prisoner of the
Apparently, after free falling 20,000 feet without my parachute deploying,
I was unconscious when I landed. I was taken to a North Vietnamese hospital.
I didn't regain consciousness for about a week and remained semi-conscious
for another two weeks. The delirium resulted in the nickname "Spaceman," as
I could not even state my own name. The other POWs had asked the Vietnamese
to feed me intravenously, which they did, and also take care of a large bed
sores which had developed on my tailbone and feet. They also gave me leg
splints to keep my feet from dropping. I spent a little less than two months
in Hanoi and was among the first to be returned. I entered the states on
February 16, 1973. I asked to be sent to Wilford Hall Hospital at Lackland
AFB, where I am still recuperating from my injuries. I hope to attend school
and study for an MBA degree. We plan to start a family as soon as my wife's
and my lives become stabilized. The result of my experience in Hanoi is that
I now have a greater appreciation of my wife, my country and the United
States Air Force.
Thomas Klomann medically retired from the United States Air Force as a
Captain. At a 1998 reunion, Tom was introduced to the NETWORK as "The POW
who came home in a basket." "The doctors told me I was the most seriously
injured of the men that returned." The injuries still cause me problems. I
faced more surgeries just a short time ago.
Tom was doing fine in 2002. He was building a new home.
National Geographic Channel - 22 August 2016 – 10 pm eastern – 9 pm central
MEMORIES OF HELL
First American Pilot taken Prisoner in Vietnam recounts his heroic escape
Lt. Chuck Klusmann tells his story and it is worth your
time. If it’s past your bed time –
please – click the ‘record’ button – you be glad you did.