MIA Bracelet - Capt.Robert Di Tommaso 7-29-66
From my hometown, I've kept the bracelet for over thirty years.
|Name||DI TOMMASO, ROBERT JOSEPH|
Name Robert Joseph Di TommasoRank/Branch O2/US Air Force
Unit 388th Combat Support Group, Udorn Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth 07 August 1941Home City of Record Buffalo NY
Date of Loss 29 July 1966Country of Loss North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates 204300N 10454953E (VH998943)
Status (in 1973) Missing In ActionCategory 2Acft/Vehicle/Ground RC47D
Other Personnel in Incident Robert Hoskinson; Galileo F. Bossio; (still
missing) Bernard Conklin; James S. Hall; John Mamiya; Herbert E. Smith;
Vincent Chiarello (remains returned)
Source Compiled from one or more of the following raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.
REMARKS DEAD/FIR 317-09130 74
SYNOPSIS On July 19, 1966, an RC47D aircraft departed Udorn Airfield in
Thailand en route to Sam Neua, Laos. The crew abord the aircraft included
Capt. Robert E. Hoskinson, pilot; Maj. Galileo F. Bossio, 1Lt. Vincent A.
Chiarello, Capt. Bernard Conklin, 1Lt. Robert J. Di Tommaso, SSgt. James S.
Hall, TSgt. John M. Mamiya and TSgt. Herbert E. Smith, crewmen. The aircraft
was an unarmed RC47D Command and Control airship (Dogpatch 2).
When the aircraft was 10-20 miles south of Sam Neua, it was attacked by
enemy fighters. Radio contact was lost and the families were initially told
there was no further word of the plane or crew - that they had all been lost
on an operational mission in North Vietnam.
It was later learned, however, that at least one, possibly two parachutes
were observed in the air from persons on the ground, and the loss had
occurred not in North Vietnam, but at 201200N 1041700E, which is in Laos.
Primary objective of the C-47 in Laos at that point in the war was visual
reconnaissance. American forces worked closely with CAS (CIA) primarily to
weaken the communist supply link to South Vietnam via the "Ho Chi Minh
Trail". This particular plane, however, was working in support of the CIA's
secret indigenous army which was attempting to prevent a communist takeover
The crewmembers on these missions were normally highly trained in electronic
surveillance techniques as well as versed in codes and languages.
Accordingly, and as "there was no war in Laos", certain details of the
mission, such as the precise location of loss, were originally distorted.
Later reports indicate that some of the crew survived the attack on July 29,
1966. According to a March, 1974 list published by the National League of
Families of POW/MIAs, Bossio survived the incident and was missing in Laos.
One 1971 report states that as many as 5 of the crew were captured.
Chiarello and Di Tommaso were identified as survivors by Capt. Adair of
Project Dogpatch. U.S. Air Force records still reflect the loss as having
occurred in North Vietnam.
In 1988, the remains of Conklin, Chiarello, Hall, Mamiya and Smith were
returned to U.S. control. They were positively identified and returned to
their families for burial. The Di Tommaso family was also notified, and
Mafalda Di Tommaso rushed to Hawaii to sadly welcome her son home. She was
shocked to learn that no body had returned - only information which added
nothing to the mystery surrounding her son's loss.
The families of Bossio, Hoskinson and Di Tommaso have the right to know what
happened on July 29, 1966. The communist governments of Southeast Asia can
account for the large majority of the nearly 2500 Americans still missing
there. The weight of the evidence shows that some of them are still being
held captive. It's time the veil of secrecy was lifted on these men and the
others. It's time they came home.
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