E-Mail: March 2003:
When I was a teenager I wore a POW braclet of a United States Air Force Pilot Bobby Ray Bagley. He was in captivity from 1967 to 1973. He wrote me a beautiful letter when he returned home.
With the current war going on, I am reminded of this time in my life. I went on the Internet and found alot more information on him, part of which told me he passed away in 1997, and is buried at your cemetery. My 18 year old son and I want to take a road trip to the cemetery, and pay respect to Mr. Bagley. I tried to find him on your website, but wasn't able. Can you help?
BAGLEY, BOBBY RAY
Name: Bobby Ray Bagley
Rank/Branch:O4/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 20th TRS
Date of Birth: 10 February 1933
Home City of Record: Cumming Georgia
Date of Loss: 16 September 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212200 North 1035300 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF 101
Other Personnel in Incident: none
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.
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
BOBBY R. BAGLEY
Colonel – United States Air Force
Shot Down: September 16, 1967
Released: March 14, 1973
I was born 10 February 1933. My place of birth was a small farm near Cumming, Georgia. I was the third of five boys. I grew up on the farm and graduated from Cumming High School in 1950. After graduating I joined the Naval Reserve. In the fall of 1950 I entered Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. I attended Piedmont for two years. During the summer of 1952, while on active duty, I applied for and was accepted in the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program. I received my wings and commission in June 1954. In October 1954 I married my college sweetheart, Sandy West of Canton, North Carolina. We have one daughter, Vicki Ann, born March 24, 1956. I continued my formal education in the Air Force, graduating from Omaha University under “Bootstrap” in January 1966, with a major in Business Administration.
All but one year of my Air Force career has been spent in Tactical Reconnaissance: Shaw Air Froce Base, South Carolina; Phalsbourg, France; Laon, France; Southeast Asia, including South Vietnam, Thailand, and North Vietnam; and I am now back at Shaw Air Force Base for a 4th tour there. My immediate plans are to remain in the military and to continue to serve my country in whatever way I can.
I arrived in South Vietnam in May 1966 where I spent 13 months “flying” a desk. Then I voluntarily extended my tour so that I could fly missions over North Vietnam, not having flown any during the previous 13 months. I was shot down 16 September 1967 by a MIG-21 while piloting an unarmed RF-101, reconnaissance aircraft over North Vietnam. I landed approximately 5 to 7 miles north of Son La, North Vietnam (approximately 130 miles WNW of Hanoi) and was captured almost immediately by a group of “friendly” Vietnamese peasants. I was severely beaten and mistreated by these “lovely” and “gentle” people, receiving serious injuries and almost losing my life. Later, the North Vietnamese Armymen who interrogated me were to use these injuries as a bargaining factor to gain information, to inflict still more severe pain during their barbaric torture and to deny me any medical aid for the injuries for several weeks, and then administering aid only because they (the NVN) thought that I was going to die.
But regardless of the atrocities committed by the North Vietnamese; the torturing, the beatings; the inhumane treatment; the humiliation, the degradation that became such a part of our normal routine, life for us had to go on.
Immediately following my capture, and again after my introduction to the Communist methods of extracting information from an individual, I prayed for death! Death would have been the easy way out. But God would not let me die! And so during the 5 years of my imprisonment God and I became quite intimate, and, by His grace, I survived.
However, it was not only my faith in God that brought me through the long ordeal, but also faith in my country and in those responsible for conducting the affairs of my country. I believe in freedom, and I certainly supported our
involvement in Vietnam, but I felt that it was going to be a long war. We had a job to do in South Vietnam, a job that would take time, for the Communists of North Vietnam were not to be easily dissuaded from their goal of complete enslavement of the people of South Vietnam. I had pride, and the utmost confidence, in my country. But I surmised that if I was to survive the long ordeal that awaited me I must live only one day at a time, never looking back, nor looking ahead for more than a few hours. By my acceptance of this attitude early in my internment I found it possible to maintain faith in my God and in my country, and to maintain my sanity. I never felt that I had been forsaken, or forgotten. Someday I would once again be a free man!!!
I am a very lucky man–I returned to the country that I love so dearly! I am also a very proud man, proud of my God, my country, my President, my family, and proud of all those who did not forget me and my compatriots during those difficult and trying years. I am also proud of having been afforded the opportunity to serve my country in this small way. Many of our brave young Americans gave their lives in Vietnam to preserve freedom-the freedom we here in America often take for granted. Let us never forget those men. And let us also work very diligently for a complete accounting of the unknowns–the MIAs–who also gave of themselves that men might be free. America is a grand and glorious country. It is a FREE country! So let us, all of us, strive to make it an even greater country. We must unite for the cause of America, for the cause of freedom! Let us demonstrate to those who have betrayed our country during its hour of need, and who are still voicing support for the enemy, that we here in America are united, and that America is truly a land of freedom. God bless you and God bless America! TAP–TAP! !
Bobby Bagley retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He lived in South Carolina, until his death from cancer 12/05/97. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
BAGLEY, BOBBY RAY
United States Air Force
DATE OF BIRTH: 02/10/1933
DATE OF DEATH: 12/06/1997
BURIED AT: SECTION 59 SITE 1105
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard