Robert Charles Link, CWO, USA ...

By: Max J. Mizejewski
Organization: 176 AHC Duc Pho, 1967
© 1997


I would like to place a Rose with the name of my very best friend, "Smitty" Link, 17 AHC 10CAB 16CAG, MIA/51E-022. I am having a photo digitized and will send it next week. You see, I am also an x-warrior, out of WOC 67-5, but came home after only 5 weeks in country. I served proudly as a Huey pilot with the 176th AHC out of Duc Pho in June and July 1967.
      My very best friend and the guy I still think of every day is Robert "Smitty" Charles Link. We went through flight school together, he helped me become a soldier and I help him with the books to become a good written test taker. I spent many weekends with Smitty and his wife, Peggy, and their two lovely children in his mobilhome outside Fort Walters, Texas. For Advanced Flight School our families lived side by side in a mobilhome park just outside the gate at Fort Rucker, Alabama. We were together during all our free time. We studied and trained hard together, we drank beer and ate oysters on a half shell by the buckets together, and most importantly we laughed a lot together. Life was very good for us in 1966 and early 1967! We were both very proud to graduate together and become an "Officer and Gentleman" together as CW1's on 8 May 67.
      I received orders to go directly to Viet Nam after graduation. We had plans to somehow link up in Vietnam and do our R&R with our families together. That never happened, we lost contact. I had a mechanical tail rotor failure at the wrong time and the wrong place, which took me out of action five weeks into my tour, 24 July 67, and into Tripler Army Hospital, Hawaii and finally a medical disability retirement.
      Smitty was sent to the 17th AHC which was organizing, equipping, and training at Fort Riley, Kansas. All of the pilots were very busy learning more about the UH-1 in order to be combat ready for deployment to Vietnam. The 17th AHC passed there ORT (Operational Readiness Test) by going "active" with 25 aircraft for 2 weeks in July 1967 for OPERATION GARDEN PLOT, the quelling of the Detroit riots! They supported a battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division in Detroit making lifts into LZ parks, intersections, and parking lots. Passing there ORT they ferried the aircraft to California for shipment to Vietnam. The 17th AHC personnel then arrived during September and October in Long Binh, Vietnam, just out of Saigon; assigned to the 214th Combat Aviation Battalion (Headquarters at Bear Cat). Smitty was assigned as a maintenance officer. Due to the 17th AHC being sent over as a whole unit the pilots were then sent out to train "in-country" with other existing units.
      Smitty went MIA/KIA/BNR with another pilot and a crew of four on a recovery mission near the A Shau Valley on 21 April 68. Their aircraft were required to depart from Phu Bai in order to do an aircraft recovery in LZ Veghel (or Zeghel). The weather was bad, with low clouds and rain showers. Operations talked to the senior pilot, Capt. Olsen, by radio and a close friend of Smitty's, "WO1 Joseph Labrie (also WOC 67-5), talked to Smitty over the radio briefly, but he broke off the conversation because Smitty was busy trouble shooting the problem." Smitty told Labrie, "We have made a temporary fix and were going to fly the broken aircraft back to home base." That was the last anyone heard from any of them.
      I received this information from Gary Roush and the VHPA (Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association) database and several letters from members of the 17th AHC.
      The reason for this letter is that I am asking for your help in sending me any additional information you might have about Smitty while he was in country or the actual "incident" of the UH-1H. As you may know, VHPA is about to publish a second history book with "biographies and after action reports" next month. I want to gather enough accurate information to write the most detailed and truthful "After Action" report to be included in that book, both as a tribute to Smitty and all the missing crew of KINGSMAN UH-1H tail #66-16209. I also need to do this in order to help me put closure to my feelings about Smitty.
      I thank you now for anything that you can share with me.
      Warm regards,
      Max J. Mizejewski, Ret., W3155965

Official Information
Link, Robert Charles
CWO - Army - Reserve
43 year old Married, Caucasian, Male
Born on 04/10/35
From Washington, District of Columbia
His tour of duty began on 04/21/68
Casualty was on 05/22/68
in Thua Thien, South Vietnam
Hostile, died while missing
Helicopter - Pilot
Air Loss, Crash On Land
*** Body was not recovered ***
Religion - Roman Catholic
Panel 51E - Line 22 Logo
Comments to Don Poss
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