Robert Raymond Dyczkowki
Colonel, United States Air Force
Robert Raymond Dyczkowski was born on June 23, 1932 and joined the Armed Forces while in Buffalo, New York.
He served as an Aviator in the United States Air force, 421 TFS, and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Robert Raymond Dyckowski is listed as Missing
Nearly 35 years after his death, a 421st pilot’s remains were repatriated in a memorial ceremony April 6, 2001, at Arlington Cemetery.
Colonel Robert Dyczkowski, then a captain with the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron, was on his 99th mission over Vietnam April 23, 1966 when his F-105D was shot down.
The 421st Fighter Squadron was invited to Arlington to fly the missing man forrmation and make a presentation to Colonel Dyczkowski’s wife, Delma, during the ceremony.
The memorial ceremony allowed the 421st FS pilots to pay their last respects to Colonel Dyczkowski, said Captain Stephen Jost who was the Black Widows’ presence on the ground. Captain Jost, chief of weapons and tactics, watched the funeral, marched in the procession, and presented Colonel Dyczkowski’s wife with a squadron scarf, coin and the POW/MIA bracelet worn by Lieuenant Colonel Paul Strickland, 388th Fighter Wing chief of safety.
Captain Jost said he participated in military funerals while in the Air Force Academy’s Cadet Choir, but has never seen anything as grand as the Arlington ceremony. “It was perfect,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
As the ceremony progressed on the ground, a four-ship of 421st Fighter Squadron F-16s loitered in the distant skies above waiting for their opportunity to honor the fallen pilot.
“It has special significance to take a flight of aircraft from the squadron to honor him at his burial,” said Lieutenant Colonel Eric Best, 421st FS commander. “The missing man formation is specifically to honor military members who have given their life in service for their country.
“It’s an opportunity you just can’t say no to,” said Colonel Best. “It just means too much.” Colonel Best was the flight lead for the missing man formation.
The four 421st FS F-16 Fighting Falcons flew low over Arlington Cemetery to salute Colonel Dyczkowski. As the Honor Guard detail removed the flag from the casket, one Falcon pulled up and away from the others – a symbol paying homage to those left behind; to Colonel Dyczkowski.
Exactly how his aircraft was shot down remains a mystery. Official reports state that Colonel Dyczkowski had completed his bomb run when the flight lead gave him instructions to return to the formation. The Colonel acknowledged and banked his aircraft to rejoin his flight. Approximately four minutes later the flight lead asked everyone to report fuel status. Colonel Dyczkowski failed to make the report – he was not seen or heard from again.
Colonel Dyczkowski was listed as missing in action for 12 years. In 1978, the military changed his designation to “presumed killed in action, body not recovered.”
A joint team of people from the United States and Vietnam who are responsible for locating people missing during the Vietnam War discovered Colonel Dyczkowski’s identification card in a museum in Thai Nguyen City, Vietnam. Aircraft wreckage and bone fragments were also discovered during their search of the crash site.
Mrs. Dyczkowski said finding her husband’s remains and burying them in Arlington Cemetery helped her close a sad chapter in her life.
Mrs. Dyczkowski said the Arlington ceremony
was “extremely impressive” and thanked the 421st FS for their participation.
She said everything from the funeral service, the Honor Guard, the band
and the fly over was “a great honor to my husband. It makes me very proud.”
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15
March 1991 from one or more of
SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in
its various versions, flew more
Robert R. Dyczkowski was born in Buffalo, New
York in 1932. He attended St. Mary's Parochial School and Burgard Vocational
High School, where he became a member of the Civil Air Patrol. While a
member of the Air Force reserves,
Pilots in Vietnam did not serve a certain period of time, as was the case with ground troops, but rather flew 100 missions which completed their tour in-country. It was on Dyczkowski's 99th mission in North Vietnam on April 23, 1966 that his F-105 disappeared about 75 miles north of Hanoi. Dyczkowski's aircraft was number two in a flight of three and disappeared after pulling off the target. He failed to rejoin the flight after acknowledging instructions to do so. Subsequent radio contact with him was unsuccessful all search efforts were fruitless. There has been no further information concerning his fate.
Mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia. The U.S. Government has regular talks with the Vietnamese and has negotiated the excavation of a crash site and the return of about 100 remains, but has failed to successfully negotiate for the return of those Americans still held captive.
Robert R. Dyczkowski was promoted to the rank
of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was maintained missing.
Remains found in Vietnam identified as Buffalo-area pilot
TONAWANDA, N.Y. - Air Force Captain Robert Dyczkowski will be given a place in Arlington National Cemetery on April 6, 35 years after his death during a bombing mission over North Vietnam.
Some of the Buffalo-area pilot's belongings and a bone fragment were recently found and identified, said family members who waited for decades for the news.
"We now have some closure," his older sister, Lee Fellner, told The Buffalo News.
Although Dyczkowski's body was not found, plane wreckage, a bone fragment (too small to yield DNA information), part of Dyczkowski's military identification card and part of a flight helmet embossed with "Capt. Dyc ..." were determined to be sufficient circumstantial evidence to allow the remains to be designated as those of Dyczkowski, the Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii told the family.
Some of the artifacts will be buried at Arlington next month as family members, including his widow and grown children, look on.
Dyczkowski's F-105 fighter-bomber disappeared April 23, 1966. Dyczkowski, 33, was on his 99th mission, and had one more to go before returning home the following week.
"We were told that his plane had gone down and it might be a couple of days" before his fate was known, Fellner said. "A couple of days became a couple of years, and we still didn't know."
The pilot was listed as missing in action for 12 years. In 1978, the military changed his designation to "presumed killed in action, body not recovered."
"He died serving his country and as an honorable man doing his duty," Fellner said. "... I have no bitterness" (over U.S. involvement in the war).
Dyczkowski, who was promoted to colonel posthumously, left behind a wife, Delma, and three children, now 36, 39 and 41.
"You never give up hope," Delma Dyczkowski said from her Arizona home Wednesday when asked whether she believed her husband's remains would ever be found.
"There's some relief," she said. "It would have been better if it would have been sooner but I am grateful that the government is still searching for remains."
Both she and Fellner spoke sympathetically of families of other missing soldiers who still don't know what became of their loved ones.
"We now have some closure, but a lot of other families don't," Fellner said, "and we will continue to support them."
Posted: 1 April 2002 Updated: 22 October 2002 Updated: 20 April 2003 Updated: 6 November 2005