JEFFREY, ROBERT DUNCAN "BOB"
Name: Robert Duncan "Bob" Jeffrey
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH
Date of Birth: 23 July 1939
Home City of Record: Los Angeles CA
Date of Loss: 20 December 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212500N 1063700E
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Other Personnel In Incident: George I. Mims, Jr. (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: 1Lt. George I. Mims was the weapons systems operator of an F4C
Phantom jet which was one of four F4Cs flying "MIG cover" for F105's bombing
a bridge on the northeast railroad out of Hanoi into China. Capt. Robert D.
"Bob" Jeffrey was his pilot on the mission.
During the flight, Jeffrey's aircraft took what appeared to be a direct hit and
other flight members felt sure that there was no chance of survival for
either. Only small pieces of the airplane were seen to emerge from the
fireball. George Mims had been married only a month, and Bob Jeffrey had a
When 591 Americans were released from Vietnam in 1973, George Mims was not
among them, but his pilot, Bob Jeffrey was. No substantial information
has surfaced on Mims since his plane went down. The Vietnamese deny any
knowledge of his fate.
Since the war's end, the U.S. Government has received thousands of reports
of Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia. This large volume of
evidence suggests that hundreds are still being held.
Henry Kissinger predicted, in the 50's, that future "limited political
engagements" would result, unfortunately, in nonrecoverable prisoners of
war. This prediction has been fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where
thousands of men and women remain missing, and where ample evidence exists
that many of them (from BOTH wars) are still alive today. The U.S.
Government seems unable (or unwilling) to negotiate their freedom. The
"unfortunate" abandonment of military personnel is not acceptable, and the
policy that allows it must be changed before another generation is left
behind in some faraway war.
George I. Mims, Jr. was promoted to the rank of Captain during the period he
was maintained missing.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR
Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St.,
Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original
publication (including date and spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
ROBERT D. JEFFREY
Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down: December 20, 1965
Released: February 12, 1973
Bob Jeffrey grew up in Los Angeles, became an Eagle Scout, graduated from
Northrop Institute of Technology, and went into the Air Force Cadet program.
He was a distinguished graduate and chose to fly the F102 Delta Dagger. He
was stationed at Perrin AFB in Sherman, Texas, and then lived in the
Philippines for two and a half years and en enjoyed traveling in the Far
East. In the summer of 1964 he was transferred to California where Bob
checked out in the F4C and Billy was born. He spent his spare time flying
private airplanes, surfing, playing golf and tennis.
On December 20, 1965, Major Jeffrey was shot down on his third day in Viet
Nam ... his FIRST mission. His only son, Bill, was ten months old. That
little boy would spend eight Christmases without his father.
Bob was commanding a Phantom F4C when it took a direct hit. His wife was
delivered a two-page telegram four days before Christmas informing her that
he was "missing in hostile territory." Later she was unofficially advised by
his wingman and other military friends that he was almost certainly dead.
However, when the warning lights had gone on in Bob's aircraft, he had
endeavored to pull the ejection flap, but due to gravity forces he found he
could not raise his hands. He finally reached an alternate ejection handle
and then blacked out. About 200 feet above ground his chute was opened. The
North Vietnamese were shooting at him from a field below. Capture was
immediate. "They tied my hands behind my back and took my suit ... they
could not find the zippers. By accident they inflated my life preserver
water wings! They all jumped back."
A long truck ride followed to the Hanoi Hilton where he became the sixtieth
prisoner to take up residence. Time passed slowly. Bob would be in eight
prison camps in seven long years. Yet it was amazing what the men did with
their few resources. Broken tiles from prison roofs were used as chalk to
draw pictures on the floor. The men found the tile contained different
pigments; a practice guitar keyboard was made from laminated paper, cloth,
and strips of bamboo. The goal was to stay mentally alive. When possible,
classes were formed. All knowledge was exchanged. Bob taught French,
Spanish, German and lectured - on his favorite sports of archery and
surfing. Using his own hair and a stick, Bob even made a paint brush and
used whitewash from the walls as a source of ink.
Hungry for knowledge in such tight isolation, the prisoners were elated to
learn of the Apollo 11 lunar landing from a picture on a sugar packet sent
from home. This news was a year late in reaching them. Bob returned with
this message for America. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank my
fellow countrymen for the beautiful experiences I have had since my
homecoming and to tell them how wonderful it is to be back in America
"The thousands of deep, compassionate letters filled with love and sincerity
were a testimony to the concern for us and our return. I wish to answer each
individually and I hope you will be patient and understanding until I can."
"I have felt the love of the people to whom I have spoken and the
communities that have hosted me and my family; it has deepened my love for
them and for my country. I have found my experience has broken down all
barriers of race, creed, or religion - that I can relate freely with others
as they can with me. I thank the countless selfless people and organizations
who have devoted tremendous amounts of effort to obtain the honorable
realease of the prisoners."
"I would especially like to publically express my respect and appreciation
to my wonderful wife, Joy, who devoted the past years of her life to
securing my return and the return of my fellow prisoners. She started her
work as a member of the first group of wives to go to Paris in Sept. 1969 to
meet with the North Vietnamese delegation and ended it by serving as the
Texas State Co-ordinator for The National League of Families. She helped
start a movement which ultimately resulted in greatly improved treatment for
the prisoners as well as the saving of men's lives."
"In addition to these efforts, she managed to find time to raise a well
adjusted, loving son who knew and loved me when I returned from Vietnam
although he had only been ten months old when I left. I thank the good Lord
for them and my countless other blessings."
"I feel that I am a better man for my experiences and I hope that our
country is a better nation for our sacrifices and our return."
Since his release Bob has taken tests in French, German, and Spanish for
college credit at SMU. He studied all three of these languages in prison
camp. He has received 21 credits for the knowledge acquired there. He is
attending SMU for thirty-six months through a program with the USAF and is
holding a 4.0 average.
Robert Jeffrey retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel in
January, of 1980. He and his wife Jean reside in Texas.
January 02, 1997
Really enjoyed the Christmas recollections. Thought I'd add mine.
I was shot down 20 Dec 65 arriving at the Hilton the next day. I was pretty
banged up but nothing serious. Burns, the usual crushed vertabrae, shrapnel
grazes, cuts, etc. My eyes were blood red and I couldn't focus on anything
or see very well. After the usual Welcome Wagon treatment (torture), I was
put into New Guy Village. It was a cell block that was a dead end corridor
with only one entrance. I was in the room next to the door. A shower room
was across from me. There were about six other rooms in the block filled
with the greats. Robbie (Risner) was next to me, then Jim Stockdale, Larry
Guarino, and I think Jerry Denton. I was assigned clearing duties even
though I couldn't see very well. But I could stand on my bunk and look
through a hole in the transom and tell if a guard was approaching.
Robbie taught me the tap code and we practiced during the day. That
evening, the meal showed up. This was to be my first regular meal as I
hadn't been given much up to this time, nor did I feel like eating. The
guard opened the door and shoved in a stack of ceramic bowls stacked on top
of each other with a loaf of bread resting on top. After the door closed, I
unstacked the bowls and inspected the contents of each. I didn't recognize
a thing in them, nor did the contents look edible to me, so I passed.
After a while, I heard Robbie calling me. I went to the transom and he
asked if I had eaten. I told him I wasn't hungry. He passed a wire, with a
loop string on the end, to tie my bread to. He reeled it in and I asked him
if the food was always this sh---y. He paused a second and said, "It's
Christmas and this is a SPECIAL MEAL." All I could say was "Oh!"
The next day I realized how special that meal had been.
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