SIMA, THOMAS WILLIAM
Name: Thomas William Sima
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli AB, TH 6441st TFW
Date of Birth: 20 December 1932
Home City of Record: Hannastown PA
Date of Loss: 15 October 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 214800N 1044700E (VH775998)
Status (in 1973):
Other Personnel In Incident: In another F105D, same location: Robert H.
Schuler, Jr. (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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 2018.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Robert H. Schuler, Jr. and Capt. Thomas W. Sima were
assigned to the 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Yokota Air Base,
Japan. Beginning in August 1964, the squadron performed rotational duty to
Southeast Asia, and flew out of Takhli Air Base Thailand.
Their aircraft, The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions,
flew more missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It
also suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was
constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped
with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot
ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing
capability and ECM pods for the wings.
Schuler and Sima were pilots of separate F105D aircraft which departed
Takhli on October 15, 1965 on a combat mission over North Vietnam in Ha
Tiang. During the mission, both aircraft were hit by enemy fire. Sima
ejected safely and was captured and taken to Hanoi. Schuler's fate is still
Interestingly, Schuler and Sima were downed not many miles from a prison at
Yen Bai which was later known to have been a detention facility for American
Prisoners of War. Their combat missions in that area of North Vietnam, along
the Red River qualifies both as "River Rats," a fighter pilot association.
Robert H. Schuler was declared Missing in Action. Sima was luckier. In 1973,
591 American prisoners were released from prison camps in Vietnam, and among
them was Sima. Schuler apparently never surfaced in the prison system in
which Sima was held, and he never learned his fate for certain.
When the war ended, refugees from the communist-overrun countries of
Southeast Asia began to flood the world, bringing with them stories of live
GI's still in captivity in their homelands. Since 1975, over 10,000 such
stories have been received. Many authorities believe that hundreds of
Americans are still held in the countries in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Government operates on the "assumption" that one or more men are
being held, but that it cannot "prove" that this is the case, allowing
action to be taken. Meanwhile, low-level talks between the U.S. and Vietnam
proceed, yielding a few sets of remains when it seems politically expedient
to return them, but as yet, no living American has returned.
Robert H. Schuler Jr. was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he
was maintained missing in action. Thomas W. Sima was promoted to the rank of
Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was a prisoner of war.
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 spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
THOMAS W. SIMA
Lieutenant Colonel - United States Air Force
Shot Down: October 15, 1965
Released: February 12, 1973
My full name is Thomas William Sima. I was born on Dec. 20, 1932 in
Hannastown, PA. I spent two years at Carnegie Institute of Technology in
Pittsburgh, PA. and then enlisted in the USAF coming on active duty 9 Feb.
1953. Eventually received my wings and commissioned via aviation Cadet program
on 18 Jan. 1955. After F-86 gunnery training at Nellis AFB, I served two years
at Stazuke AB, Japan, flying F-86-F and F-100-D. Next 4 1/2 years at Seymour
Johnson AFB in F-100-C and sometimes in F-105-B. During this time I attended
the USAF Fighter Weapons school at Nellis AFB, Nevada and Squadron Officers
School at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama. My job at Seymour was Wing weapons
officer. In April 1962 I was assigned to Combat Plans in Taipei, Taiwan and in
July 1963 at Itayuke AB, then Yokota AB, Japan. Starting in August 1964 our
squadron performed rotational duty to Southeast Asia. I was on my third
two-month rotation when I was shot down and captured Oct. 15, 1965. I was
released on Feb. 12, 1973.
To me our most valuable tool in combatting the enemy and preserving our
mental, physical, and spiritual facilities was our unity. I feel that without
this unity, many of us would not have come back home or least many more of us
would have returned in a deteriorated state of mind and body. I was constantly
amazed at the extreme loyalty of the men towards the USA and our people. While
we only received antiAmerican news, I found myself relying heavily and at
times exclusively on faith in our Country, people and God. Upon my return I
found that it was faith well utilized since my beliefs, fortunately, were
still true. Granted, we had our dissentions in the USA over the war, but our
people are still great Americans in the extreme majority. My contacts with the
people, both young and old, have re-confirmed my love and faith for America,
her people, and freedom. I feel no bitterness about my seven years in
captivity. I only hope that I and other ex-POW's can do our part in getting
our country together again on one common goal: Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity.
Tom Sima left the service after Vietnam.