Robert Alan Clark

United States Navy
21 September 1946 - 10 January 1973
North Hollywood, California
Panel 01W Line 110

Silver Star

Naval Flight Officer

DFC, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Navy Commendation, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Robert A Clark

The database page for Robert Alan Clark

21 Jan 2003

Robert A Clark

I knew Robert aboard the USS Midway. The VA-115 Ready Room backed up to our Ready Room door (VF-161) and as was common a lot of friendly harassment went on between the "fighters" and the "bombers". On either side of the common door was the Squadron Duty Officer's desk and whenever a fighter made a particularly poor landing and Robert was the VA Duty Officer, he would fling the door open and bang a loud gong into our ready room. We obviously would retaliate when one of theirs screwed up coming aboard, usually with a volley of wadded up "bomber" maps. I remember the day he and Mike did not return, no one harassed anyone that day, we had all lost two comrades and friends, so close to the end of everything.

From a shipmate and fellow Naval aviator,
Jim Bragdon

Servicemen Missing from Vietnam War Identified
United States Department of Defense
January 9, 2004
DoD Media Release

Two servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial.

They are Navy Ltjg Robert A. Clark of North Hollywood, Calif., and another officer whose name will not be released at the request of his family.

On Jan. 10, 1973, the two took off in an A-6A aircraft from USS Midway on a mission to suppress surface-to-air missiles in North Vietnam. Near the target area in Nghe An Province in North Vietnam, aircrew reported an estimated 15 surface-to-air missiles fired, as well as numerous antiaircraft rounds. Clark's A-6A was not seen again.

Attempts to contact the crew for four days through radio and visual searches were unsuccessful.

In July 1991, U.S. researchers discovered in a Vietnamese military museum a data plate which correlated to the downed aircraft. Later, in another museum, they discovered photos of a crash site which also correlated to the missing aircraft. U.S. researchers examined Vietnamese wartime records which confirmed the downing of that aircraft in Nghe An Province in January 1973.

Between 1993 and 2002, U.S. researchers and joint U.S.-Vietnam teams conducted four field investigations and one excavation. During one of their field visits, a witness to the 1973 crash turned over remains he claimed to have recovered at the site. During the excavation in 2002, additional remains were recovered.

The remains were identified in 2003 by the Central Identification Laboratory through skeletal analysis and mitochondrial DNA.

14 Jan 2004

Short One "Feet Wet"

In the dark of the night,
After calling "Feet Dry",
They were declared "Missing In Action",
We may never know why.

This morning is a time,
To reflect on the past,
To honor my father and Mondo,
As our memories of them forever last.

Vietnam was a time,
We saw much of America protest,
But still many willingly chose,
To put their courage and honor to the test.

This list of heroes,
Is too great to name them all,
But they stand here amongst you,
Some lay at rest. . .others are on the Wall.

It's this commitment to servanthood,
Which stands at the crux,
As something necessary. . .required,
In a world of constant flux.

We still need those who care,
About the Red, White and Blue,
That are willing to stand,
For what is Just, Right and True.

This doesn't require a uniform,
Or wings on your chest,
No. . .simply a commitment to serve,
And give others your best.

This is what unites us,
This is what makes us strong,
To foster a "Nation Under God",
And eradicate the evils and wrongs.

This is what's essential,
This remains at the core,
This is what my father, Mondo and others,
Thought was important enough to fight for.

There's a reason why we train,
There's a reason why we fight,
Not to flex our arms,
Showing off "globally" our military might.

No. . .we train instead,
For those who put aside,
Common decency for mankind,
And replace it with pride.

We saw it in Vietnam,
We just saw it in Iraq,
We must see "justice prevail",
We must never turn back.

My father, Mondo and others,
Helped maintain the course,
For future generations of,
Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

Who fight for America,
Who trust in our God,
As they're committed to servanthood,
In our homeland and abroad.

I thank America!
For allowing my father's dreams to be complete,
As he had wings of gold on his chest,
And sat in the Intruder's right seat.

He did what he loved,
When he strapped on that jet,
He was committed to the end,
As he was short one "Feet Wet".

I praise my Lord God,
My Father and King,
For the peace and the joy,
That He consistently brings.

He is a good God,
He embraces us all,
He's simply waiting for us,
To respond to His call.

It's because of His peace,
I can confidently say,
That in fact I had two Fathers. . .
As the Lord never left me and my dad has affected me each passing day!

In loving memory of my father, Lt Robert Alan Clark, my hero. . .

Colonel Tad David Clark

16 Jan 2004

On the cold and snowy morning of January 9, 2004, the remains of LT Robert Alan Clark (known to his family and friends by his middle name) were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. In attendance were his widow, Tonya, his son, Captain Tad Clark (now a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot), many family members and most of his old A-6 Intruder squadronmates from Attack Squadron 115 (VA-115). During a reunion dinner the night before, many of his former shipmates had shared their memories of "Arlo," in an attempt to honor his memory as well as to help Tad fill in the picture of who his dad had been as a friend, a squadronmate and a warrior. The service on Friday morning was extremely touching, and was highlighted by Tad's reading of a poem he had written in honor of his dad, whom he had never met. Burial was, of course, with full military honors.

Arlo's remains spent over three decades away from American soil, but now they are finally home. We have now said the goodbyes that we never got to say 31 years ago. It is said that those who are remembered live on forever. Al Clark's memory is still very much alive.

From a former squadronmate and roommate,
Bob ("Woody") Wood

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On the night of 9/10 January 1973, the Strategic Air Command's B-52 heavy bombers continued their attacks in North Vietnam with a series of strikes in the vicinity of Vinh. Two A-6A Intruders from Attack Squadron 115 aboard USS Midway were tasked with a surface-to-air missile suppression attack on a SAM site about 30 miles northwest of Vinh. LT Michael T. McCormick, pilot, and LTJG Robert A. Clark, B/N, were assigned A-6A BuNo 155693.

The two aircraft launched and proceeded "feet dry", intending to conduct separate but coordinated attacks on the target. The weather was overcast with cloud layers variously reported at 1,500 to 15,000 feet. As the A-6s and B-52s approached their targets, a barrage of SAM missiles were launched - a dozen or so at the B-52 cells and three at the A-6s. Although the missile rocket motors illuminated the clouds, it was impossible to judge their trajectory or target until the SAM actually broke free of the cloud cover, thereby reducing the aircrews' reaction time.

The second Intruder completed its attack and went "feet wet", taking up an orbit offshore while waiting for McCormick and Clark to rendezvous - but they never arrived. That aircrew then retraced the flight route at an altitude of 15,000, but failed to sight any fires other than those caused by the B-52 strikes and were unable to make radio contact with either McCormick or Clark. Subsequent search and rescue efforts failed to locate either the downed aircraft or its crew.

Both crewmen were carried as Missing in Action until the Secretary of the Navy approved Presumptive Findings of Death for them - McCormick on 25 July 1975 and Clark on 07 March 1978.

Mike McCormick and Robert Clark were the last of seven VA-115 aircrewmen lost during the Vietnam War. Until this year, only one of the seven had come home:

  • 17 Apr 66 (A-1H) LCDR William L. Tromp, MIA/BNR
  • 14 Feb 67 (A-1H) LT Robert C. Marvin, MIA/BNR
  • 17 Mar 67 (A-1H) LTJG Gene W. Goeden, MIA/BNR
  • 19 Jul 72 (A-6A) LT Raymond P. Donnelly, KIA/Body recovered
  • 24 Oct 72 (A-6A) LTJG Michael S. Bixel, Lost at Sea/BNR
  • 10 Jan 73 (A-6A) LT Michael T. McCormick, MIA/BNR
  • 10 Jan 73 (A-6A) LTJG Robert A. Clark, MIA/BNR
Now Robert A. Clark and Michael T. McCormick have come home.

Pilot follows in father's footsteps
by 1st Lt. Heather Healy
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Captain Tad "TC" Clark decided to become a pilot so he could follow in his father's footsteps. His father was a bombardier-navigator presumed killed in action during the Vietnam War. Clark currently serves as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.
01/17/03 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFPN) -- The weather on Jan. 10, 1973, was overcast as Navy Lt. Michael McCormick, an A-6 Intruder pilot, and Lt. j.g. Robert Clark, a bombardier navigator, stepped out to their plane and prepared for a mission over North Vietnam. It would be their last one - forever.

It was the last mission Attack Squadron 115 would support with its A-6 Intruders, and it was strictly for volunteers. The next day, McCormick, Clark and all USS Midway sailors were to head back toward friendly waters and return to their families. For Clark, it would be a particularly wonderful homecoming because he would get to hold his 2-month-old son for the first time.

Two A-6s took off from the U.S.S. Midway that day, but at the end of flight operations, only one of them returned. The details surrounding the disappearance of McCormick and Clark's plane are unclear. Even 30 years later, little is known about what actually happened.

For 10 months VA-115, aboard the USS Midway, had been launching A-6 Intruders off its deck supporting B-52 Stratofortress air strikes over North Vietnam.

According to reports filed through the Homecoming II Project, there was intense surface-to-air missile activity that day. Twelve surface-to-air missiles were launched at B-52s, and three were launched at the A-6s.

Radio contact between McCormick and his wingman was lost. Early search and rescue missions did not reveal any crash sites.

"I was acquainted with a number of officers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (Wash.) who manned the A-6A squadrons deployed on Pacific Fleet carriers," said Dave Anderson, a Vietnam veteran assigned to VA-145 on the USS Ranger.

"I lived across the street from Robert Clark who was lost just weeks before the cease fire," said Anderson. "He left behind a son that he never saw."

The son Robert Clark left behind would grow up without a father, but not without the influence of a father figure always in his life. Capt. Tad "TC" Clark, a 29-year-old pilot with the 35th Fighter Squadron here, grew up with a strong mother, who was full of memories, and friends who served with his father and were full of stories.

"My father is presumed killed in action," said Clark. "His plane was the last Navy jet lost in Vietnam. My mom obviously considers my dad the greatest thing since sliced bread. She's proud of the fact that her husband did something noble with his life."

She was not surprised when at an early age her son began expressing the desire to fly. From the days when his dreams were nothing more than crayon sketches of planes to the moment he entered pilot training, flying was his ultimate goal.

"Tad always wanted to be a fighter pilot as soon as he understood what being a pilot was," said Tonya Clark, widow of Robert and mother of Tad. "I have always supported him in this."

According to Clark, everything he has done up to this point has led to this. In high school he worked diligently to make the grades in order to get accepted into the Air Force Academy.

His goal at the academy was to get a pilot slot. At pilot training, his goal was to fly F-16 Fighting Falcons. At F-16 training, his goal was to train for war.

Most days when Clark climbs into a jet, he is so focused on the mission thoughts of his father do not cross his mind, but then again, sometimes they do.

"There have been times I've been here flying low level with fog coming off the mountain and the rice paddies below that I think 'this must be similar to what it looked like flying in Vietnam,'" said Clark. "But truthfully, what we do now isn't even close to what my dad and others who served in Vietnam had to put up with. Now it's popular, even embraced, to be in the military."

But it was the sense of duty displayed by those he grew up with that drove him in the direction of military service.

"Each of us has a background and story," said Clark. "We all have friends and loved ones who have endured the hardships of war."

A new chapter of his story began at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., when he took control of his first F-16.

"When the lists of assignments came out at Luke and I saw that Kunsan was on the list, I immediately knew that's where I wanted to go," said Clark. "I thought it'd be neat to be in the vicinity of where (my dad) is."

T. C. Clark, 35th FS, Kunsan AB, RoK Becoming a mission-ready F-16 pilot with Kunsan's "Wolf Pack," however, is only part of the total experience.

"It's exciting to be part of a group of people who are willing to make the same sacrifice," Clark said.

Clark's mother understands that sacrifice.

"I couldn't think of too many other things in life that a mother could be prouder of than having her son willing to put his life on the line for others and for the cause of freedom, no matter where it is in the world," said Tonya.

That sentiment has been instilled in Clark throughout his life, and though there was sadness growing up without a father, he feels grateful for all his father's spirit has given him.

"In some ways I have missed out, but I am blessed to have had a father who has affected my life in such a meaningful way," he said. "He stood for something and did something honorable with his life. Many kids grow up with fathers who are there every day, but don't have that kind of impact."

Clark looks forward to passing the same patriotic values his parents gave him on to his children.

"I think this has all given me a unique perspective on having a family," he said. "It's important to make every second count and wake up every day thanking God for what you do have."

Taken from the
Air Force Link
January 2003
Photo of Captain Clark by Suellyn Nuckolls

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 21 Jan 2003
Last updated 1/14/2017