WILKE, ROBERT FREDERICK Name: Robert Frederick Wilke Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force Unit: 602nd Fighter Squadron, Udorn AB TH Date of Birth: 14 September 1925 Home City of Record: Milwaukee WI Date of Loss: 17 January 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 174900N 1055900E (WE971903) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A1A Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) 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. NETWORK 2010. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used in a variety of roles, ranging from multi-seat electronic intelligence gathering to Navy antisubmarine warfare and rescue missions. The general procedure for a rescue escort entailed two A1 aircraft flying directly to the search area to look for sign of the downed crewmen while two other A1s escorted the rescue helicopter to the area. If it was necessary, the A1s would attack enemy in the area with bombs, rockets and cannon fire so that the helicopter could land. Lt.Col. Robert F. Wilke was the pilot of an A1H aircraft en route to a search and rescue mission when he was reported missing in action over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. His aircraft was last seen flying through a break in the clouds about 10 miles northeast of the city of Don Hai Dinh. His plane crashed within sight of Thomas Moe, the Captain he had been sent to rescue. Moe spent the next 5 years in captivity. When he did not return to base, he was declared missing in action from the time of estimated fuel exhaustion. Nearly 2500 Americans remain missing or otherwise unaccounted for in Vietnam. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports concerning missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many experts are completely convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive. One set of critics say that the U.S. has done little to address the issue of live POWs, preferring the politically safer issue of remains return. Others place the blame on the Vietnamese, for using the issue of POW/MIA to their political advantage. Regardless of blame, no living American has returned through the efforts of negotiations between the countries, and the reports continue to pour in. Are we doing enough to bring these men home? Robert F. Wilke is a 1965 graduate of Texas A & M University. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained missing in action.