Robert Edward Carmichael

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
01 July 1941 - 02 January 1970
Vernon Hill, VA
Panel 15W Line 117


UH-1 Huey

Army Aviator

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Robert Edward Carmichael

A Small Miracle

Posted for

I am a playwright, teacher, and drama coach at an elementary school in the state of Washington. In the Spring of 1997 I wrote and directed a play about a little girl who was separated from her father in 1969 while he was serving his country in Vietnam. This was a special play in many ways. For the first time our cast was made up of actors of different ages. Our youngest was a kindergartner, our oldest an 80 year old teacher and World War Two Veteran. For the first time ever in our district, our play was performed on a "real" stage at a "real" auditorium with lights, music, and fancy costumes from the actual time period. One of the characters in our show was a young man who was killed only months after beginning his tour with the little girl's father. Originally this character's name was "Michael Edward". I then realized that his father was referred to as "Mr. Carmichael" and "Michael Carmichael" did not have a ring to it. So, after a moment of thought, another first name came to me. "Robert". I changed his name to "Robert Edward Carmichael". In a very moving finale of our play, "Robert" is remembered on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The play was a big success. The children learned so much from this experience, both about being professional actors and about the turbulent times when most of their parents were only babies, a time when many brave men and women gave their lives serving their country.

That summer the traveling memorial wall came to our town. Just seeing the wall, touching it, reading the names overwhelmed all of us who saw it. I myself was only a child in 1969 and I have no family honored on that wall. But I felt such pride as my fingers traced the letters carved there. Then my fingers touched one name and a small miracle occurred. There, on that black wall in front of me, was the name of the character from our play! ROBERT EDWARD CARMICHAEL! The character I had created was real. I requested a fact sheet on Robert. Through my tears I read that like the character in my play, the real Robert had died two months into his tour. Although my actors and I never met Robert Edward Carmichael, the real Robert Edward Carmichael, he and his bravery will forever be remembered in our hearts. For some reason, he was meant to be remembered. Sometimes things happen in life that we call coincidences, but this is much more than that. This is a miracle.

- Gregg Marquart -
Tacoma, Washington

Mission Notes

The Hughes INFANT (Iroquois Night Fighter and Night Tracker) system was developed for the U.S. Army Southeast Asia Night Operations (SEA NITEOPS) program office. INFANT used a low-light-level TV (LLLTV) and infrared searchlights for targeting ground targets during night operations. The LLLTV was installed beneath the nose of the aircraft and was thought to be capable of seeing men and equipment under starlight or moonlight conditions. The INFANT system was used on the UH-1M "Huey" to aim a modified M21 armament subsystem.

On 02 Jan 1970, a UH-1M (tail number 66-00726) assigned to B Company, 227th Aviation Battalion, was conducting a "Nighthawk" night operation, testing the INFANT system. The crew consisted of

  • 1LT Robert Edward Carmichael, pilot
  • LTC Roger Wendell Kvernes, copilot
  • WO1 Dennis Erwin Debner, third pilot
  • SFC Eddie Lee Spivey, crew chief
With Lieutenant Colonel Kvernes at the controls, the aircraft entered a gun run from approximately 1000 feet. His wingman watched as the UH-1M leveled off at about 300 feet before entering a high-speed descent ending with ground impact. The UH-1M exploded and burned, killing all four crewmen. As there was no enemy presence or fire involved, the accident board hypothesized that the cause of the accident was target fixation.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Gregg Marquart 
21 Feb 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 02/21/2003