ROBERTS, GERALD RAY

Name: Gerald Ray Roberts   
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Commander/US Navy 
Unit: Attack Squadron 196
USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) 

Date of Birth: 08 April 1934 (Smiley, TX)                         
Home of Record: San Marcos, TX
Date of Loss: 02 December 1965 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 180158N 1062159E (XE446942)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H "Skyraider"
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS:   With its fantastic capability to carry a wide range of ordnance (8,000 pounds of external armament), great flight range (out to 3,000 miles), and the ability to absorb punishment, the single-seat Douglas A1 Skyraider became one of the premier performers in the close air support and attack mission role (nickname: Spad) and RESCAP mission role (nickname: Sandy). The Skyraider served the Air Force, Navy and Marines faithfully throughout the war in Southeast Asia.

On 8 April 1965, Lt. Cmdr. Gerald R. Roberts was the pilot of an A1H Spad that launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard as part of a multi-aircraft flight on an operational strike mission over North Vietnam. The flight initiated their bombing runs on the target. Lt. Cmdr. Roberts was completing a bombing run on the target when his aircraft failed to rejoin the formation over a designated area.

When one aircraft failed to rendezvous with the rest of the flight, a radio check revealed Gerald Robert's aircraft was the one missing. The other members of the flight immediately searched the target location for signs of the missing Skyraider and its pilot. During their search, the other pilots observed the smoking wreckage of the Skyraider. It appeared to have crashed in a vertical dive. A visual and electronic search of the area surrounding the crash site failed to detect any evidence of a survivor.

At the time of loss it was believed that based on the low altitude of the bombing run and the steep angle of the dive, Lt. Cmdr. Roberts would have been unable to eject his crippled aircraft before it impacted the ground. At the time the search was terminated, Gerald Roberts was immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

The location of the wreckage was in a densely populated and heavily defended sector approximately 10 miles due west of the coastline. Highway 1, the primary road that ran along the east side and nearly the full length of Vietnam, separated the coastal plain to the northeast of the road and forest to the southwest of it. It was also the primary highway that ran between the Major North Vietnamese cities of Vinh and Dong Hoi.

Rugged mountains rose sharply approximately 3 miles to the south and southwest of Highway 1. The Skyraider's wreckage was seen approximately 2 miles southwest of Highway 1 in the trees at the foot of the mountain range, 6 miles south-southeast of a major road junction at the village of Ky Anh and 11 miles due east of Xom Dan Si. This location was also 39 miles north-northwest of Dong Hoi and 62 miles southwest of Vinh.

While the fate Gerald Roberts is in little doubt, he has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. Based on the circumstances and location of loss there is no doubt the Vietnamese know what happened and could return his remains any time they had the desire to do so. Above all else, he has the right to not be forgotten by the nation for which he gave his life. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.

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.

Pilots in Vietnam were called upon to fly and fight 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.