ROBERTS, HARRY MICHAEL
Name: Harry Michael Roberts Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: Age: 30 Home City: Savannah GA Date of Loss: January 1991 Country of Loss: Iraq Loss Coordinates: Status: Prisoner of War Status in 2002: Released 03/05/91 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F16E
Other Personnel in Incident: Jeffrey S. Tice (released) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS: OPERATION DESERT STORM
SYNOPSIS: In the early days of hostilities in the Middle East, about one dozen American pilots were shot down and declared missing. The Pentagon, reluctant to release more information than was necessary, released only name, rank, branch of service and age of each missing man. Family members, friends and media sources reported more.
On January 20, 1991, the Pentagon announced that Captain Harry M. Roberts, US Air Force was Missing from early offensive strikes over Iraq and Kuwait. No further information was given as to date of loss, location of loss or probability of survival. Later media released indicate that Roberts was stationed at Torrejon Air Base in Spain. He and Tice were flying from Doha Qatar airfield on a strike against an oil refinery south of Baghdad. Each man flew separate F16E aircraft.
On January 20, 1991, a video interview of Allied POWs was broadcast on Iraqi television. First the audio portion, then the video, were shown in the U.S. by Cable News Network (CNN). Seven Allied POWs (including three Americans) had been paraded through Baghdad in a propaganda move and coerced into making "peace" statements. All appeared to be speaking under extreme duress. While the Pentagon has yet to confirm the identity of the Americans in the film, and has not classified even these three officially as POWs, at least one U.S. family has confirmed that the man appearing in the interview was their son. Costin was not mentioned in the report. Also on January 20, Iraqi stated that POWs would be used as "human shields" to protect their important military sites from attack by Allied forces.
On January 22, 1991, Iraqi television broadcast post-capture interviews of Capt. Harry M. Roberts and Major Jeffrey S. Tice. As was the case on January 20, these two POWs appeared to be subdued and under extreme stress -- but alive, and not as severely injured as the first group. Roberts and Tice stated their mission areas had been south of Baghdad and their aircraft were hit by surface-to-air missiles (SAM).
On March 6, 1991, Roberts and Tice were released by the Iraqis. They were part of a group of 15 Americans released at that time, some of whom were not previously identified as POWs. The group had apparently been held near an intelligence complex at Basra.
Harry M. Roberts is 30 years old and is from Savannah, Georgia. He attended Benedictine Military School in Savannah and later excelled at the United States Air Force Academy. Prior to being sent to the Middle East, Roberts was stationed near Madrid, Spain at Torrejon Air Base. He has two step-children and wife Patty, who lives in Spain, is expecting a baby in February.