Robin Frederick Gatwood, Jr
United States Air Force
Hickory, North Carolina
December 05, 1946 to July 20, 1978
(Incident Date April 02, 1972)
ROBIN F GATWOOD Jr is on the Wall at Panel W2, Line 128

Robin F Gatwood
7thaf.gif 388tfw1.gif 42tews.gif

11 Mar 2004

I have adopted 1st Lt Gatwood on the

Heather Fredericks

04 Mar 2006

It has been a long time, almost forty years, since I first met Robin. I had just returned from Vietnam and he was getting ready to go; from one soldier to another I think he was ready to do his part. I was already out of the Marine Corps after spending 28 months in Vietnam (1st Force Recon) and was devastated to learn of his death.

He was born and raised in Hickory, NC. The movie "BAT-21" is based on his last flight.

If you have any pictures of him please have them put on the Virtuall Wall, with any other info you can provide.

May you rest in peace my brother in arms, for you will never be forgotten.

Roger Fleming
2951 Dave Ray Street S W, Supply, NC 28462

01 Dec 2006

I never knew my father, Captain Robin Frederick Gatwood Jr. USAF, I was only 13 weeks old when his EB-66 (BAT-21) went down on April 2, 1972. This was his first mission, and he wanted to be there. Everything I have learned of my father was that he was a kind and proud man. I wish I could have grown up with him around, but unfortunatly that was not God's will.

I have a plaque that belonged to him hanging in my house, stating what he felt about War. In short it reads "War is a terrible thing, but to have nothing worth fighting for is far worse." I truly believe this.

To all those that have lost a family member in any War, God Bless You and your family. To those who serve or have served in any branch of the military, THANK YOU! If it wasn't for all of you we would not enjoy the freedom we share today.

Hopefully one day my father, and the rest of those missing, will be recovered. Then maybe we all may have some sort of closure.

From his son,
Robin F. Gatwood III


A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 02 Apr 1972 two EB-66 electronic warfare aircraft departed Korat RTAFB in Thailand to provide EW support to B-52 bombers operating south of the DMZ. BAT 21 was lead with BAT 22 as number two. The "Easter Offensive" had just begun and very large North Vietnamese forces were moving south through the DMZ.

Although numerous SA-2 missiles were fired at the B-52s, there were no hits ... until BAT 21 was hit while turning south to vacate the target area. The stricken EB-66 broke up at about 18,000 feet, but only one crewman - navigator Lt Col Iceal Hambleton - was able to parachute to safety on the ground.

The safety was illusory, though, since Hambleton landed in the midst of the south-bound NVA forces. SAR and strike aircraft supported Hambleton as he moved south toward a pick-up point, but it soon became apparent that the area was simply too "hot" for SAR helicopter operations. After 11 days of travel by night, Hambleton was able to join up with a South Vietnamese SEAL team led by US Navy Lieutenant Tom Norris and was successfully rescued.

The downing of BAT 21 and the subsequent SAR efforts were costly in terms of aircraft and aircrews:

  • 2 Apr: BAT 21, EB-66C tail number 54-0466, 42nd TEWS: The remains of BAT 21's crew have not been repatriated.

  • 2 Apr: Army UH-1H tail number 67-17801, F Troop, 8th Cav Rgt
    • 1LT Byron Kent Kulland, pilot, MIA
    • WO1 John Wesley Frink, pilot, MIA
    • SP5 Ronald Page Paschall, crew chief, MIA
    • SP4 Jose M. Astorga, gunner, POW, repatriated 05 Mar 73
    The remains of Kulland, Frink, and Paschall were repatriated in 1993 and identified in 1994.

  • 2 Apr: Army AH-1G tail number 68-17033, F Troop, 8th Cav Rgt
    Aircraft destroyed; no losses.

  • 3 Apr: USAF OV-10A tail number 68-3789, 23rd TASS
    • 1st Lt William J. Henderson, POW, repatriated 27 Mar 73
    • 1st Lt Mark N. Clark, picked up

  • 3 Apr: Army UH-1H tail number 68-16330, 37th Signal Bn
    • CW2 Larry A. Zich, pilot, MIA
    • WO Douglas L. O'Neill, pilot, MIA
    • SP5 Allen D. Christensen, crewman, MIA
    • SP4 Edward W. Williams, crewman, MIA
    This loss was not directly associated with the BAT 21 incident, but occurred in the same area. Their remains have not been recovered.

  • 6 Apr: USAF HH-53C tail number 68-10365, 37th ARRS
    • Capt John Henry Call, pilot
    • 1st Lt Peter Hayden Chapman, pilot
    • TSgt Allen Jones Avery, crewman
    • TSgt Roy Dewitt Prater, crewman
    • Sgt William Roy Pearson, crewman
    • Sgt James Harold Alley, combat photographer, 601st Photo Flight
    The HH-53 was hit by ground fire as it approached Hambleton's position, rolled inverted, and exploded and burned on ground impact. The crewmen's remains were repatriated and identified on 25 Sep 1997.

  • 7 Apr: USAF OV-10A tail number 68-3820, 23rd TASS
    • Captain Bruce C. Walker, USAF, pilot
    • Captain Larry F. Potts, USMC, observer, 1st ANGLICO
    Walker evaded capture for 11 days; his last radio transmission to SAR forces was to not to make a rescue attempt as the enemy was closing in. There are reports that Potts was captured and died in Quang Binh prison. Both men remain unaccounted for.

All told, 26 US aircrewmen were on the ground. Four were rescued: Hambleton, Clark, and the two AH-1G crewmen. Two were repatriated when the POWs returned: Henderson and Astorga. Twenty died or disappeared. Of those men, nine have come home. Eleven have not. Robin Gatwood is among these eleven men.

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