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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Robert Blaine Parker, Lt., USAF (KIA)September 19, 1924 – November 28, 1950
1st Lieutenant Robert Blaine Parker. Robert was born in the Lamar Community and a graduate of Lamar High School, Class of 1943. He was a veteran of World War II having served in the United States Navy with Patrol Bomber Squadron 148 in the Pacific Theater 1944-45. After the war, Robert applied to the Navy to become a pilot, but was turned down. He reapplied later and was turned down yet again, but for another reason. So, he applied to the newly formed United States Air Force (USAF) and was accepted. The Navy released him, so he could do so. After completing his training and a Distinguished Graduate to boot, his dream came true and Robert became a pilot.
Robert, a First Lieutenant now, was assigned to Detachment F, 3rd Air Rescue Squadron, Military Air Transport Service and reported for duty in the Republic of Korea on 28 October 1950. On 28 November 1950 a reconnaissance aerial photo mission was scheduled aboard the USS Leyte (CV-32), an Essex-class aircraft carrier to film Chinese and North Korean troop movements along their two borders. Composite Squadron 62 was assigned the task and Ensign William George Wagner, call-sign “WAG”, would fly the F4U-1P Corsair Photo Plane. Upon reaching the border and starting his film run, the aircraft was hit and WAG had to eject.
The 3rd Air Rescue was notified. They knew this was going to be a very risky mission due to the distance they would have to cover, nearly all of it behind enemy lines and the lateness of the mission start would put them into the hours of darkness. Robert’s H-5G Dragonfly #49-2009 helicopter was not equipped for night flying and had a maximum range of 280 miles on a full fuel load. Today, over 180 of those miles were to be flown behind enemy lines, so volunteers were asked for and Robert volunteered. He knew the risks, but he also knew a brother in arms was in big trouble and wouldn’t survive the night, so he volunteered along with Private First Class Desmond Roy Wilkerson, a medical technician to rescue Ensign Wagner. The mission launched at 1500 hours (3 pm) with two U.S. Navy fighter aircraft assigned to fly cover. Upon reaching the Manchurian border, they located WAG and rescued him. On the return trip the enemy lines kept shifting and at 1915 hours (7:15 pm) he radioed the escort fighters that he was out of fuel and has to land. He was 10 miles north of Airfield K-29 at Sinanju, North Korea. That was Robert’s last radio transmission.
Robert, WAG and Desmond were discovered by a U.S. Army patrol and interred at the United Nations Cemetery at Pyongyang, North Korea. That too, fell to the Chinese and North Korean forces days after and Robert’s remains were not returned to the U.S. Forces until 1955.
For his actions on that evening, Robert was awarded our nation’s second highest award for bravery and valor, the Distinguished Service Cross. He also received a Purple Heart, National Defense, Korean Service, United Nations and Republic of Korea War Service Medals. His unit was also awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
Robert was 26 years old and the son of Charles Hubert “Charlie” Parker and Sarah Lyle. He was married to Janelle and they had no children. Robert’s older brother was a C-47 pilot in the United States Army Air Forces during WWII.
H-5H #49-2009Korea28 November 1950
Korwald Korean War Airloss Database&U. S. Navy, U. S. Marine Corps and MATS Aircraft Lost During The Korean War: 2017 EditionBy: Douglas E. Campbell&http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/korea/reports/air/korwald_info_2190.htm&“That Others May Live, USAF Air Rescue in Korea” by Forrest L. Marion
H-5H #49-2009 crashed into a mountain about 25 miles north west of Pyongyang, Korea, in low visibility, darkness and low on fuel, returning to base after rescuing a F4U pilot from North Korea. Killed in the crash were 1st Lt. Robert B. Parker (P), Pfc. William G. Wilkerson (M) and Ens. William G. Wagner USN a rescued Navy F4U-5P pilot. This was the first loss of USAF helicopter crew members in the Korean War.
No other detail are know at this time.
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