Hymel, Robert Joseph, Lt Col

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Primary Unit
1972-1972, 22nd Bombardment Wing, Heavy
Service Years
1969 - 1993
Officer Collar Insignia
Lieutenant Colonel

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

103 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sgt Stephen Willcox-Deceased to remember Hymel, Robert Joseph, Lt Col.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
New Orleans

Casualty Date
Sep 11, 2001
Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash - Land
District Of Columbia
Not Specified
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Combat Crew

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
September 11, 2001 Fallen
  2017, September 11, 2001 Fallen [Verified]

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 Ribbon Bar

Aviator (Basic)

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Air Training Command307th Strategic Wing22nd Bombardment Wing, Heavy
  1969-1969, Air Training Command
  1972-1972, 307th Strategic Wing
  1972-1972, 22nd Bombardment Wing, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1972-1972 Vietnam War1
  1972-1972 Vietnam Cease-fire Campaign (1972-73)/Operation Linebacker II
  1990-1990 Gulf War/Defense of Saudi Arabia/Operation Desert Shield
  1991-1991 Gulf War/Liberation and Defense of Kuwait/Operation Desert Storm
 Colleges Attended 
Southeastern Louisiana UniversityWestern New England College
  1964-1969, Southeastern Louisiana University
  1973-1974, Western New England College
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-52 Stratofortress (Buff)  
  1972-1972, B-52 Stratofortress (Buff)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Robert Hymel, Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, was killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

Lt. Colonel Hymel, Retired, "began his civilian career with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) on March 7, 1994. He served as a senior management officer in the Office of the Comptroller, Deputy Comptroller of Force Structure and Management. He was responsible for DIA joint manpower issues that focused on military intelligence management and organization."  Source: http://www.pentagonmemorial.net

"Hymel, 55, of Woodbridge, Va., retired in the early 1990s as a lieutenant colonel after more than 20 years in the Air Force. He was working as a management analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon when it was attacked. He was in the basement of the building and was preparing to move to a new workstation when the building was struck, his wife said. The new desk, which he was to occupy the following day, was in an area spared from destruction." Source: original article by The Chicago Tribune at http://www.legacy.com

Lt. Col Robert Hymel is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 64 Site 4874. Source: U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006, Ancestry.com

During the burial ceremony at Arlington a B-52 bomber flew over the cemetery, "a special act requested by his wife because it was the second time that Robert Hymel had been caught up in an extraordinary aircraft incident."  Source: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net

"It was Christmas Day 1972 and the bombers were idle, but Air Force Lieutenant Bob Hymel was feeling uneasy. The B-52 crews based a U Tapao in Thailand were in the midst of an intense bombing campaign of North Vietnam known as Linebacker II, ordered by President Richard Nixon to force the communist government to resume negotiations. With anti-war feeling high back home, Nixon had ordered a Christmas Day bombing pause.

'It was extremely tense for everyone,' Hymel recalled in a 1976 interview for a book on the bombing campaign. 'We were concerned about the Christmas bombing halt; afraid that the North Vietnamese had used the halt to restock and repair their SAM (surface-to-air-missile) facilities.'

They were right. When the bombing resumed the next day and his crew flew toward its target, a warehouse complex northwest of Hanoi, Hymel, the co-pilot, could hear on the radio that planes ahead were getting 'hosed down' with Soviet-supplied missiles. One B-52 struck by a missile exploded in midair.

As Hymel's plane dropped its bombs and rolled off the target, the gunner called out a warning about approaching missiles.

Turning his head, Hymel saw two SAMs coming up side by side, turn directly toward the B-52 and explode along the plane's right side. 'It felt as though we had been kicked in the pants,' he said. Two engines had been knocked out, fuel was leaking and the gunner was wounded.

The crew could have ditched the plane over water, but the pilots were unable to communicate with the gunner and were unsure whether he would be able to bail out. They decided to fly the big crippled plane to U Tapao.On the approach to the airfield, the plane suddently veered to the left, and the pilot was unable to regain control.

Captain Brent Diefenbach, a B-52 pilot on the ground, watched as the plane pitched up and then fell to the ground, exploding in flames. 'Nobody survived that one --that's what I thought,' said Diefenbach, who lives in Fairfax Station. Diefenbach raced to the scene, running through tall elephant grass to the inferno, arriving before rescue crews. To his shock, he heard a faint call for help. It was Bob Hymel.

'He was so stuck in there, it was just a mess,' Diefenbach said. 'Things were blowing up, and it was time to go.' Diefenbach managed to cut Hymel loose and drag him to safety. Four crew members died.

Hymel, who suffered multiple broken bones and crushed vertebrae, was in the hospital for 1 1/2 years and never went back to flying, but he stayed in the Air Force for 20 more years.

'It used to bug him that he survived and the others died,' Pat Hymel said. "He was driven. I saw a change in his personality: 'Okay, I've been given a second chance, so I'm going to make the most of it.'".... Source: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net (Probably a Washington Post newspaper article)

NOTE: "Jim Turner was the pilot of the B52D returning from a mission over North Vietnam. With injured crewmembers on board, he elected to attempt a landing at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield. The aircraft crashed after attempting to go-around with engines out and other combat damage. There were only two survivors, the co-pilot and gunner (of the six crewmembers). The crew were Capt James M. Turner, Pilot, KIA; Maj Lawrence J. Marshall, Navigator, KIA; Lt. Col Donald A. Joyner, Radar Navigator, KIA; 1st Lt Robert J. Hymel, Co-Pilot, Recovered, TSgt Spencer L Grippin, Gunner, Recovered and Capt Roy T. Tabler, EWO, KIA.
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