Summary

Conflict Period:
Vietnam War 1
Branch:
Air Force 1
Rank:
Colonel 1
Birth:
19 May 1930 1
Death:
06 Mar 1978 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Robert Earl Kline 1
Birth:
19 May 1930 1
Male 1
Death:
06 Mar 1978 1
Cause: Air Loss, Crash - Land 1
Age at Death: 47 1
Body Recovered: Not recovered 1
Casualty Date: 02 Nov 1966 1
Casualty Type: Hostile, Died While Missing 1
Residence:
Hometown: Indiana, PA 1
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Marriage:
Marital Status: Married 1
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Vietnam War 1

Branch:
Air Force 1
Rank:
Colonel 1
Air Wing:
366th TFW 1
Enlistment Type:
Regular 1
Grade:
O6 1
Major Command:
7th AF 1
Service:
Air Force 1
Specialty:
Pilot, Tactical Fighter F-105 (USAF) 1
Squadron:
421st TFS 1
Tour Start Date:
06 Oct 1966 1
Edit
Race or Ethnicity:
Caucasian 1
Memorial Wall Location:
Line: 10 1
Panel: 12E 1

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Stories

Silver Star

I was a member of MACVSOG Brightlight and working on a Silver Star for Cpt Jaks who led the Brightlight team that rescued Cpt Kline in Laos 1966when he was shot down anyone with info on that mission please contact me at oldsfguy@yahoo.com
Email Address: oldsfguy@yahoo.com
Phone: 336 479 8233

History

 Col Kline is presumed to have perished while missing after a crash under hostile fire in F-105D Thunderchief ("Thud") tail #60-0469 on 2 Nov 66 (boots in country 6 Oct 66) while with the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Korat RTAFB Thailand.

-------- From Bob Huntley's F-105 Loss records: 11/02/1966 600469 F105D Korat 421 Maj Robert Earl Kline KIA Guns At target N Viet Strike Combat Loss 30 NW Yen Bai

-------- From POW/MIA Status reports: SERVICE: US AIR FORCE ( Complete Service Report ) RANK: O4 STATUS: XX - PRESUMPTIVE FINDING OF DEATH DATE OF INCIDENT: 1966/11/02 HOME OF RECORD: INDIANA, PA ( Complete State Report ) COUNTRY OF LOSS: N. VIETNAM VEHICLE TYPE: F105D

-------- Link to Craig Baker's full list of names of F-105 pilots lost in the Vietnam War: http://www.burrusspta.org/theheroes2.html

-------- From researcher Dave McNeil (Karl Richter Historian): "Thank you Mike---I would like to see what you have for Robert Kline and why he is remembered. From what I have learned about him, he should have never been at Korat. Will leave it at that for now. I have done detailed research about all those of the 421st TFS that were KIA." Dave "Good thing you have done one for Robert Kline. I learned, quite a while back, his wife passed away in 98, has two children and they do not give a you know what about their dad. Family has never attended MIA meetings."

------- DoD Press Release, 3 Nov 66, page 4, #936-66 (C-215) states: "Major Robert E. KLINE Died not as a result of Hostile Action" Link: http://www.scguard.com/museum/docs/vietnam/1966/November1966.pdf

------- Some history of the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing: In April 1966 the 388th was sent to Thailand where it replaced 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing. The wing flew combat missions in Southeast Asia, April 1966-August 1973. The wing primarily conducted interdiction, direct air support, armed reconnaissance, and fighter escort missions. In 1967, it concentrated on key logistical and industrial targets in North Vietnam. The wing added a variety of other special-purpose aircraft and related missions as the war progressed. Following the final ceasefire in August 1973, the wing entered into intensive training program to maintain combat readiness and continued to fly electronic surveillance and intelligence missions. The 388th provided air cover and escort during the evacuation of Americans from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and of Americans and selected Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam, in April 1975. It also participated in the rescue of the crew and recovery of the S.S. Mayaguez from the Cambodians in May 1975.
--------- Some history of the Republic F-105 Thunderchief: Dating from the mid 1950s the F-105 flew more missions and suffered more losses over North Vietnam (over 400 including twenty one destroyed by enemy fighters) than any other plane. These losses represented more than half those built. For a single-seat plane the Thud weighed the same as the B-17 heavy bomber, and three times that of Republic's WW2 equivalent the P-47 Thunderbolt. Its main mission was meant to be tactical nuclear bombing and it was able to fly supersonically at sea level. Though fitted with a bomb bay (for the nuclear bomb) this was normally occupied by an extra fuel tank so iron bombs were carried on wing-mounted pylons. The internal M61 six-barreled Vulcan cannon had a 1000 rounds and the Thud normally also carried a radar-jamming ECM pod and Sidewinder heat-seeking missile. The two-seat F-105G was kited out as the USAF's principle Wild Weasel plane, carrying four anti-radar missiles and extra ECM pods.

------- Some history of USAF at Korat RTAFB Thailand: HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AT KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE Currently hosting 30 units and agencies of six major USAF commands Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base has corn. a long way since April 1962. At that time, one officer and 14 airmen were temporarily assigned to the base as the joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG). In July, 1964, approximately 500 persons were assigned to Korat to start the beginning of a tactical fighter operation. The operational mission commenced 15 August 1964; and by October of the same year, essential USAF base facilities were completed. By late February 1965, the tactical fighter strength increased to two squadrons flying the Republic F-105 "Thunderchiefs", both assigned to the Pacific Air Forces. A Tactical Air Command. McDonnell F-4C "Phantom" rotational unit replaced one of the squadrons a month later. USAF tactical operations in Thailand later came under the jurisdiction of the 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing activated at Korat. For a year, the wing and its subordinate units operating F-105s and F-4Cs flew 10,797 sorties totaling 26,165 hours. The wing's efforts merited the Presidential Unit Citation in March 1968. In April 1966, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing was reactivated. Historically known for its B-17 Flying Fortress operation in Europe during World War II, the wing absorbed personnel and resources of the 6234th. The 388th TFW utilized three F-105 Thunderchief squadrons. These initially were the 13th TFS., 421st TFS and the 469th TFS. Prior to the bombing halt 1 November 1968, tactical fighter squadrons assigned to the 388th contributed to the air strikes over North Vietnam. For three years, Thunderchiefs from Korat and its sister wing at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force base carried more than 75 per cent of all ordnance delivered north of the demilitarized zone. Combat operations expanded at Korat in late 1967 with the arrival of EC-121 "Constellations" of the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing and Det 1, 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing. The* 553rd "Bat Cats" were a new organization, formed trained and deployed from Otis AFB, Mass., while Det 1, from McClellan AFB, Calif., had been in Southeast Asia since April 1965. The EC-121s provided airborne radar coverage and surveillance in support of aircraft flying combat operations. The 553rd was inactivated in December 1979 while its subordinate unit, the 553rd Reconnaissance Squadron continued operating out of. Korat for another year. On 17 November 1968, an F-4E Phantom Squadron from Eglin AFB, Fla., replaced the F-105 Thunderchiefs of the 469th TFS. The new Phantom squadron, the first E-models in Thailand, retained the designation 469th TFS. All F-105s at Korat transferred to Takhli RTAFB in October 1969. In November 1970, F-105s returned to Korat when the 6010th Wild Weasel Squadron, flying specially equipped Thunderchiefs, was formed. It was redesignated the 17th Wild Weasel Squadron on 1 December 1971 and today is the only permanent F-105 unit in Southeast Asia. Also in November 1970, the 42nd Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron, which flies EB-66s, transferred to Korat from Takhli. In April 1972, the 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron arrived from Udorn RTAFB and began flying missions in its C-130 aircraft, which are equipped with command and control capsules. Today, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing is composed of two F-4E squadrons, one F-105 squadron, an EB-66 unit and the C-130 squadron. --------   

Missions

http://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/Thuds-the-Ridge-and-100-Missions-North.html?c=y&page=1 -

------- Some history of the Thunderchief in Vietnam: [3] THUNDERCHIEF OVER VIETNAM "Just as Thunderchief production was coming to an end, America's war in Southeast Asia was ramping up. The USAF 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) relocated from Japan to Korat Air Force Base in Thailand in August 1964. These F-105s were supposed to be used to provide cover for air rescue operations, but in practice they were often used as strike support for US Central Intelligence Agency operations in Laos. On 14 August 1964, Lieutenant Dave Graben's F-105D was chewed up by flak over Laos. Graben made it back to Korat and landed safely, but his aircraft had to be written off as a loss. It was the first Thunderchief to be lost to enemy action. Six months after the introduction of the Thunderchief to Southeast Asia, the 36th TFS was relocated to another base in Thailand at Takhli, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) to the northwest. The 35th TFS moved into Korat. More Thunderchief units arrived, eventually constituting the 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Korat and the 6235th TFW at Takhli. Some F-105 squadrons were operated from the Da Nang air base in South Vietnam for a short period of time early in the war, but they were then relocated to Thailand. The US government denied that the Air Force was operating out of Thailand until 1966, but in fact the F-105s were very busy. They conducted a month-long bombing campaign designated BARREL ROLL beginning in early December 1964. BARREL ROLL was intended to support Royal Laotian forces fighting with the North Vietnamese Army and Communist Pathet Lao insurgents. This was just a warmup to a bigger air war. On 7 February 1965, in response to an attack by Communist Viet Cong guerrillas against a US base camp in South Vietnam, American President Lyndon Johnson ordered Operation FLAMING DART to strike targets in North Vietnam. The strikes were conducted by US Navy, US Air Force, and South Vietnamese Air Force aircraft, with the F-105s making their initial sorties into North Vietnam itself on 8 February. The Viet Cong responded with further raids on American facilities in South Vietnam, and the US responded with more air attacks. Matters escalated into a prolonged air campaign against North Vietnam codenamed ROLLING THUNDER, with the first attack performed on 2 March 1965. ROLLING THUNDER was largely the brainchild of US Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, and had the objective of pressuring North Vietnam to the bargaining table by performing a series of restrained but increasingly severe strikes, hence the codename. The 2 March strike didn't give much reason for confidence in the scheme: three F-105s and two F-100 escorts were shot down, with four pilots killed and one becoming a prisoner of war (POW). The North Vietnamese seemed barely disturbed by the attack. Indeed, as the losses showed, they had been expecting it. * The F-105 became the USAF's primary strike aircraft for ROLLING THUNDER, ironically because the Air Force was reluctant to risk the loss of their B-52s, the backbone of their strategic bomber force. In a further irony, B-52s were heavily used for tactical strikes, particularly on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The F-105 took the brunt of the early air war. Pilots were generally fond of the big, sturdy, powerful machine, giving it names such as "Lead Sled"; "Super Hog"; "Ultra Hog"; "Iron Butterfly"; and most of all "Thud". That was at least originally the sound it was supposed to make when it crashed into the jungle, since it got off to a bad start in combat, but Republic engineers worked overtime to fix some of the machine's lingering defects. The lack of hydraulic redundancy would never be completely overcome, but soon the name "Thud" was used as a measure of respect for the aircraft's blunt-instrument sturdiness and brutal effectiveness. The F-105D could take a lot of punishment and come back home. In 1966, one F-105 was hit with a flak round that took out a chunk out of its wing 1.2 meters (4 feet) across, and the aircraft still limped back to base. The major complaint against the F-105 was that it was, like all its Republic ancestors, a real "Earth lover" that always needed as much runway as it could get to make it into the air. Jokers liked to say that if a runway was built all the way around the Earth, Republic would still be able to build an aircraft that used it all. The F-105's highly loaded wings did give it an unbeatable fast ride at low altitude, but they didn't give the Thud much in way of maneuverability, the thing being generally regarded as about as agile as a brick. The F-105 could be fitted with multiple ejector racks on its centerline to carry six bombs, along with a MERs on the inboard pylons to carry four per pylon. The outboard pylon could not be fitted with a MER. Absolutely loaded up, the Thud could carry sixteen 340 kilogram (750 pound) bombs, giving it an impressive strike capability. It could carry other air-to-ground munitions, such as napalm canisters and 70 millimeter (2.75 inch) unguided rocket pods. It could also carry four AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs using a special rack allowing two to be carried on a single stores pylon. Since the bombbay wasn't used on these strikes, it was normally fitted with an auxiliary internal fuel tank. The natural metal finish sported by F-105s up to that time gave way to a more warlike camouflage scheme, with a disruptive pattern of tan, green, and olive drab on top, and white on the bottom. North Vietnam was divided up by the US military into a set of target zones referred to as "Route Packages (RPs)", the name being derived from the packets of maps and data issued to flight crews for each target zone. As the air attacks ramped up, so did the effectiveness of North Vietnamese air defenses, and US losses continued to rise. The most heavily defended area was "RP-6A", in and around Hanoi. US pilots referred to Hanoi as "downtown", a reference to the contemporary Petula Clark pop hit of the same name, whose lyrics included the line: "Everything's waiting for you there." To enter into this target area, the F-105s had to fly over a high natural wall that became known as "Thud Ridge". The missions were dangerous and losses were high. At the worst of the air war, the chances of a Thud pilot surviving 100 missions over North Vietnam were about 75%. To increase frustration of the pilots, the air war was being "micromanaged" from the top by President Johnson and Defense Secretary McNamara. The strikes were conducted with highly specific "rules of engagement (ROEs)" that defined what was to be hit and what wasn't. ROEs are now common in the limited warfare that has become the style in the post-Cold War world, but they were more or less a new idea in 1965, one that Air Force pilots had not been trained for and that the politicians in charge didn't have a clear handle on. The ROEs seemed to shift frequently with no understandable rhyme or reason. What was absolutely clear to Thud pilots, however, was that they were getting shot at by a fearsome air-defense network, and their squadron mates weren't always coming back."

POW/MIA Bracelet


a retired hippie Information Related to your TWS Remembrance Profile #80680    My original POW MIA bracelet from the late 60's does not state MIA but has the date 11-2-66 for Lt. Col. Robert Kline - I found it in my old "memories" trunk and Googled him, of course, hoping he made it back home.

Email Address: macanuda@mail.com
Phone:


Catherine Ross Information Related to your TWS Remembrance Profile #80680    Like several others I also wore Lt. Col. Robert Kline's bracelet with the date 11-2-66 engraved on it. I have had it since the 60's and I really don't know what I should do with it. I would love for a family member to claim it but from what I've read, that won't happen. I cannot bear to throw it away. It would be too disrespectful. In my mind and heart he was and is a hero. Thank you, Robert Kline.

Email Address: lcr81145@yahoo.com
Phone: 508 879 4953

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