Last Known Activity
The service records of SSgt Robert Lee Carlson were destroyed in the fire of July 12, 1973, at the National Records Center (NRC.) However, alternate sources within that facility show that SSgt Carlson served in the USAAF in the Soutwest Pacific from 1943 to 1945 as an aerial gunner. It has not been determined what his unit of assignment was at this time.
He was born in Peru, Illinois and entered the service April 9, 1943. He was discharged on November 28, 1945. He entered the service again on September 22, 1947, was trained as a radio operator/mechanic and served at various fighter squadron assignments prior to being assigned to the 6132nd Tactical Control Squadron.
SSgt Robert Lee Carlson was participating as a member of a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) in close air support operations with radio jeep team calling in air strikes over Korea on November 1, 1950. The team never returned from the mission, and Carlson was declared MIA. There is an account on the POW/MIA record that at least one person saw him alive in a camp. He was presumed dead on Nov 6, 1953. No remains were recovered.
He was a member of Detachment A, 6132nd Tactical Control Squadron, which had several TACP units operating in Korea.
His date of MIA is November 6, 1950 and date of death presumed the same. However, the reconstructed records show that on December 3, 1950, he was assigned to the 607th AC&W Squadron, an assignment presumably made before his death was reported.
He is memorialized on the Korean War Memorial in Dayton, Ohio. Name is on the Cenotaph, Illinois panel 4. He is also memorialized on the Walls of the Missing in Hawiia's National Cemetery.
NOTE: At the time of the Korean War, the existing doctrine was that the tactical air force furnished TACPs to act as the forward element to control aircraft strikes from forward observation posts. Accordingly, the 502nd Tactical Control Group established radio jeep teams. These teams normally consisted of an experienced pilot as controller, an enlisted radio maintenance technician, and an enlisted driver, who could be radio or vehicle maintenance. There was no set number for allocations, so the 502nd in Korea assigned one team to each U.S. infantry regiment and higher headquarters, and one team to each ROK division and corps.
Problems became apparent immediately. The AN/ARC-1 radios were jolted out of alignment and working order by the terrain traversed. In addition, the only way to spot the enemy and to see the target was to expose the team and jeep to the enemy, resulting in hostile fire. With these limitations imposed on the teams, the use of airborne Forward Air Controllers (FACs) became the standard method of air strike support.
NOTE: After my initial assignment to the 6132nd AC&W Squadron, I was briefly posted to a TACP from G-3 Section, 7th Infantry Division before being deployed to a Tactical Air Direction Post (TADP) or "Tadpole" site for ground-directed bombing. As I was out in the field my entire tour, I was not acquainted with any of the other personnel assigned to Detachment A TACP duty or from the main radar site at Taegu.