ROBERTS, HAROLD JAMES JR.
Name: Harold James Roberts, Jr.
Rank/Branch: E7/US Air Force
Unit: 441st Bombardment Squadron
Date of Birth: 16 July 1921
Home City of Record: Portland OR
Date of Loss: 18 June 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 173000N 1180000E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: James A. Marshall; James M. Gehrig Jr.; Tyrrell
G. Lowry; William E. Neville; Robert L. Armond; Frank P. Watson (all
missing) Joe Carrol Robertson, Capt, KIA.
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: Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers have long been the Air Force's
most important strategic bomber. Used heavily in Vietnam, the venerable
aircraft continued its role throughout the Southeast Asia conflict and
played an important role in the Persian Gulf war two decades later.
On June 18, 1965, two B52 aircraft were performing a mission over the South
China Sea when they collided. The aircraft were approximately 250 miles
offshore at the point of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) when the accident
occurred. Apparently the crew of one of the aircraft survived or were
recovered, but the entire crew of the second remain missing.
The missing crew includes pilots Capt. Robert L. Armond and 1Lt. James A.
Marshall, and crewmembers Maj. James M. Gehrig, Capt. Tyrrell G. Lowry,
Capt. Frank P. Watson, TSgt. William E. Neville, and MSgt. Harold J. Roberts
All the crew and passengers on board the B52 downed that day were confirmed
dead. It is unfortunate, but a cold reality of war that their remains were
not recoverable. They are listed with honor among the missing because their
remains cannot be buried with honor at home.
Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were
in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.
Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those
who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several
million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to
agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be
far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive
home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.
Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still
alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still
classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the
secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?
|Subject: 18 Jun 65 MIA/POW List
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2000 13:22:57 GMT
From: "D C Macdonald" <email@example.com>
I found your list of POW/MIAs. I checked the date of 18 Jun 65 and found
The B-52 aircraft I was on (from 7th Bomb Wing (H) at Carswell AFB, TX)
BTW, the Electronic Warfare Officer Training Building at Mather AFB, CA (now
My son-in-law went through navigator training at Mather about 1987 and went
Donald C Macdonald Jr, Capt USAF (retired)
I came across your bio of TSgt Roberts at
I flew on that mission that day, and your remarks don't have the story quite right. This was the very first B-52 combat strike ever, carried out by 30 B-52s grouped in 10 cells of 3 aircraft each. Through a combination of circumstances, including an ill-conceived air refueling rendezvous plan, one cell elected to make a 360-degree turn for timing purposes and ended up flying head-on through a following cell. Two aircraft collided at a closing speed of about 1000 MPH, the wing of one striking the vertical stabilizer of the other, slicing off both. They went down off the northern end of the Philippines, nowhere near the DMZ.
There were survivors and missing from both aircraft, and one confirmed fatality. Bob Armond was an Electronic Warfare Officer, not a pilot -- Jim Gehrig was the pilot on his crew. Joe Robertson was the pilot on the other crew; he ejected but was severely injured in the process, and did not survive. Don Harten, surviving copilot, has written an excellent book entitled Arc Light One about this incident and the events leading up to and following it.
I didn't check, but I imagine these corrections may apply to bios for others missing in this incident: James A. Marshall; James M. Gehrig Jr.; Tyrrell G. Lowry; William E. Neville; Robert L. Armond; Frank P. Watson.