The database page for Robert John Kuhlman, Jr
I know nothing of Major Kuhlman other than what I have read on TFO and that his name has been on my wrist for going on three years now. I stumbled across this page and noticed that he did not have a memorial. Although I am much too young (26) to have experienced the Vietnam War I am an active duty service member and have many friends and relatives who served in Vietnam and regretably received a less than welcoming return. I believe that all the missing as well as the living vets of that war and all wars deserve to be remembered and honored with the utmost respect. I am asked frequently why I wear the name of a man with whom I have no real connection. I always tell them that regardless he is my Brother in service and deserves to be remembered and it is my highest honor to where his name on my right wrist for ever.
AE2 Benjamin D Roth, USN
A Note from The Virtual WallThe A-6 Intruder was designed for single-aircraft night/bad-weather low-level attack missions, but such missions carry risks other than those imposed by enemy gunners. On 17 Jan 1969 an A-6A, BuNo 152586, flown by Capt Edwin J. Fickler and then-2ndLt Robert J. Kuhlman was tasked with a night low-level strike in the A Shau Valley in northwestern South Vietnam. As usual, the A-6 was unaccompanied and radar contact with the aircraft was lost as it entered mountainous terrain west of Danang. The crew did check in with a Forward Air Controller who assigned them a target area but then lost contact with them.
Quite simply, the aircraft disappeared, victim to either enemy antiaircraft fire or a ground collision. Search and rescue efforts failed to locate wreckage or either crewman. Both men were classed as Missing in Action and remained in that status until the Secretary of the Navy approved Presumptive Findings of Death, Fickler on 04 Feb 1974 and Kuhlman on 16 June 1978.
Captain Fickler was assigned to H&MS 11, MAG-11, while 2ndLt Kuhlman, of Richmond, Indiana, was assigned to VMA(AW)-242.
The POW Network and Task Force Omega sites both have descriptions of this incident, but they conflict one with the other. TFO claims that
"At 2125 hours, Capt. Fickler and 1st Lt. Kuhlman were providing close air support for embattled US and allied troops operating along the east rim of the A Shau Valley. After completing an attack pass on a known enemy position hidden in the rugged jungle covered mountains, the Intruder pulled off target and was struck by enemy ground fire. It was seen by friendly forces to crash approximately 1 mile south of a primary east/west road running from the east side of the A Shau Valley to Hue City."but that seems unlikely.
The VMA(AW)-242 and MAG-11 Command Chronologies for January 1969 contain information on this loss:
One of The Virtual Wall staff is an ex-A6 aviator with about 100 missions along the Laotian border and knows that "fast mover" night close air support via visual dive bombing was essentially unheard of - the risk to friendly troops was just too great. Higher altitude level bombing via SKYSPOT radar was used, and offset bombing from a radar beacon using the Intruder's weapons system also was used ... but that too involved higher altitudes and a level delivery. It seems far more likely that the aircraft hit one of the mountainsides while pulling off target. A shallow system dive-bombing run would have been conducted along the long axis of the valley, would have placed the aircraft well below the mountaintops at pull-out, and the normal change of direction after weapons release would have had the aircraft turning toward the hillsides as it came off target at 360 knots (415 mph) or so. Enemy antiaircraft fire may have contributed to the loss, but it could equally have occurred without AAA involvement.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Benjamin D Roth
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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 Mar 2007
Last updated 03/27/2007