|Name:||Robert Alan Clark|
|Rank/Branch:||Lieutenant/US Naval Reserve|
USS Midway (CVA-41)
|Date of Birth:||21 September 1946 (Clayton, CA)|
|Home of Record:||North Hollywood, CA|
|Date of Loss:||10 January 1973|
|Country of Loss:||North Vietnam|
|Loss Coordinates:||185948N 1051836E (WG327003)
Click coordinates to view maps
|Status in 1973:||Missing In Action|
|Other Personnel in Incident:||Michael T. McCormick (missing)|
SYNOPSIS: With the addition of the Grumman A6A Intruder to its inventory, the 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW) had the finest two-man, all-weather, low-altitude attack/bombing aircraft in the world. It displayed great versatility and lived up to the expectations of those who pushed for its development after the Korean War. At the time it was the only operational aircraft that had a self-contained all-weather bombing capacity including a moving target indicator mode. In this role it usually carried a bomb load of 14,000 pounds and was used rather extensively in the monsoon season not only in South Vietnam, but in Laos and over the heavily defended areas of North Vietnam. The Intruder was credited with successfully completing some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, and its' air crews were among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
At 0145 hours, on 10 January 1973, Lt. Michael T. McCormick, pilot; and then Lt. JG Robert A. Clark, bombardier/navigator; comprised the crew of an A6A that departed from the deck of the USS Midway as the lead aircraft in a flight of two to provide support for B-52 airstrikes and with 3 targets assigned to them. The flight was due over the target area by 0243 hours where the weather was overcast with cloud bases 15,000 feet. The target area was located in a fairly heavily forested valley between two mountains approximately 21 miles inland from the coastline and 28 miles northwest of Vinh, North Vietnam.
At 0255 hours, other aircraft in the flight heard a radio transmission from the lead Intruder reporting intense surface-to-air missile (SAM) activity aimed at the various aircraft in the flight. Three of the missiles were fired at the Intruders and 12 at the B-52s. The crew of the #2 Intruder reported the boosters of the missiles were diffused by the overcast and proved extremely distracting. On egress (departure), the pilot also reported additional missile boosters sighted along with the glow from the B-52 bomb impacts. The #2 Intruder coasted out and planned to orbit off the coastline until the lead aircraft rendezvoused for the return flight to the USS Midway.
When the wingman was unable to establish radio contact with Lead, he retraced their flight path at an altitude just under the cloud cover. Likewise, between 0300 and 0320 hours as he retraced their route, he made numerous radio calls on guard, the emergency channel. During his visual search, no ground fires beyond those caused by the raid were seen and no enemy reaction was noted. Other aircraft crew members reported hearing a 3 to 4 second emergency transmission that sounded like an Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) alert; however, no voice transmission was heard. A search and rescue (SAR) mission was immediately initiated and was conducted from the time of disappearance through 14 January with negative results. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, both Michael McCormick and Robert Clark were listed Missing in Action.
Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Fighter pilots were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.