ROSENBACH, ROBERT PAGE
Some lists state remains recovered - others MIA
Name: Robert Page Rosenbach
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Reserves
Unit: 31st Tactical Fighter Wing
Date of Birth: 23 August 1941
Home City of Record: Kirkwood MO
Date of Loss: 05 March 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 131100N 1092400E (CQ266578)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 1990 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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: The North American F100 "Super Sabre" first saw action in
Southeast Asia in northwest Laos in May 1962. F100 operations in Vietnam
began in 1965, and took part in Operation Flaming Dart, the first U.S. Air
Force strike against North Vietnam in February of that year. Further
deployments of the aircraft to the area left just five F100 squadrons in the
Various modifications were made to the aircraft affectionately called "Hun"
or "Lead Sled" by its pilots and mechanics over the early years, gradually
improving night bombing capability, firing systems and target-marking
systems. The single seat models D and F were good at top cover and low
attack, and could carry a heavy load of munitions.
CAPT Robert P. Rosenbach was an F100 pilot assigned to the 308th Tactical
Fighter Squadron at Tuy Hoa Airbase in South Vietnam. On March 5, 1970,
Rosenbach departed Tuy Hoa at 0233 hours in a flight of two F100s on a night
combat Sky Spot mission over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). His radio call
sign was "Litter 4." During the mission, his aircraft lost its UHF
transmitter, but Rosenbach could receive voice transmissions from the flight
leader (Litter 3) and respond in a limited fashion by depressing the
microphone button, transmitting "clicks" to Litter 3. The bombing run was
completed without mishap, and the flight returned to base.
About four miles away from the base, with fuel stores low, the two aircraft
positioned for a circling approach to the runway. At this time, the flight
leader cleared Rosenbach to land first because of his defective radio.
Litter 3 was in visual contact with Rosenbach and observed him begin a right
bank preparing to land. Base radar plotted Rosenbach's aircraft course
shortly after 0430 hours as it overshot overshot the approach and continued
in a northeasterly direction. When the aircraft had reached a position about
eight miles from the base, over the South China Sea, Rosenbach switched his
IFF transponder to the emergency position. Shortly afterward, Rosenbach went
off radar and disappeared, indicating that the aircraft had crashed and
ceased to move, or continued near ground or sea level so as to be traveling
under the radar scope.
At 4:45 a.m. an organized search was initiated using 15-18 Army and Air
Force helicopters and light aircraft controlled by a C130 aircraft, as well
as three U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese vessels. Electronic and visual
searches were conducted over land areas and Navy vessels searched over water
throughout the following two days. A 25-mile radius from the last radar
contact point was searched without success. (It was determined that, because
of low fuel states, Rosenbach would have gone down within this radius.)
Searchers found two small oil slicks and one patch of floating debris, but
it was determined that they did not come from Rosenbach's aircraft.
On March 5, a beeper (emergency signal) was heard for a short period in the
Tuy Hoa area, but it was too brief to pinpoint precisely. However, search
and rescue personnel believed that the transmitter was in enemy hands. The
search was ended at 2130 hours on March 7, and Rosenbach was classified
Missing in Action.
Because of the great number of fishing boats present offshore, it was
considered possible that Rosenbach could have ejected and been picked up by
Vietnamese unfriendly to the U.S. It was also considered that Rosenbach
might have ejected over land and been captured or lost in an isolated area.
In assessing the chances of Rosenbach's survival it was noted that he had
the standard survival equipment onboard, including parachute and survival
kit with life raft, life preserver and survival gear. He had attended jungle
survival school and the waters were relatively calm.
Rosenbach's status was reviewed annually. Over the years, the Air Force held
a large number of hearings which made Presumptive Findings of Death (PFOD).
Several families had filed a lawsuit to compel the government to advise them
of the hearings in advance, and in 1978, Rosenbach's wife was offered the
opportunity to attend the hearing for the purpose of presenting proof that
her husband was alive. Otherwise, he would be declared dead. Mrs. Rosenbach
waived her right to attend the PFOD hearing since she had no such proof, and
Rosenbach was declared dead based on no proof he was alive.
Over 10,000 reports relating to Americans still prisoner, missing, or
unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. since the
war ended. Many experts believe that hundreds of Americans are still alive
in captivity today.
For the families of the men who remain missing, every report brings the
agony of wondering if their loved ones are alive or dead. There are hundreds
of children whose lives are paralyzed in waiting for their fathers to keep a
promise to come home to them. There are hundreds of captive Americans
waiting for their country to keep a promise to them to bring them home.