Kenneth Dale Robinson – Colonel, United States Air Force


Date of Birth: 6/30/1935
Date of Casualty: 8/30/1966
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Rank: COL
Casualty Country: NORTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: NZ

On August 30, 1966 an F-4C S/N 63-7503, lead aircraft in a flight of three Phantoms assigned to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron / 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, call sign Anvil, departed Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base on a night reconnaissance mission. The primary target on this ROLLING THUNDER 51 armed reconnaissance mission was fowled by weather, so the flight diverted to the secondary target over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam.

Anvil lead was piloted that night by Captain Kenneth D. Robinson, 31, of Indianapolis Indiana, and his systems officer and pilot First Lieuenant Sammie D. Hoff, 24, of Kenedy Texas.

While engaging an enemy ground target, Anvil Lead was struck by 37/57mm anti-aircraft artillery. The accompanying aircraft reported a ground explosion at 17°-37'N/106°-19'E, but that they were in brief radio contact with Lieutenant Hoff, this meaning he had successfully ejected from the aircraft. It is unknown if Captain Robinson ejected from the aircraft prior to it impacting the ground, but it was assumed he had. Search and rescue units were immediately notified and arrived at the location that night.

A search from the air revealed the crash site with no apparent survivors and due to the hostile threat on the ground, no ground search was authorized.

In 1973, the Vietnamese government denied any knowledge of either of the crew, and they were not among the 591 Americans released in February of that year.

The two men had been listed as missing in action since August 1966, until presumptive findings of death were approved by the Secretary of the Air Force on March 3, 1978 for Lieutenant Hoff and on December 2, 1979 for Captain Robinson. As such, their status changed to killed in action / body not recovered.

Remains unilaterally returned by Vietnam and repatriated on December 15, 1988 were identified as those of Captain Robinson and Lieutenant Hoff in February 1989, and the Armed Forces Identification Review Board approved the identification for both men on April 18, 1989.

The crew of Anvil Lead had returned from their mission after twenty-two years seven months and nineteen days.

The circumstances of their fate, is unknown … It is unknown how the Vietnamese came to posses their remains – or when.

While listed as missing, Captain Robinson was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and First Lieutenant Hoff was promoted to the rank of Major.

This aircraft, F-4C S/N 63-7693, served with the 497th TFS / 8th TFW based at Ubon RTAFB, Thailand from May 30, 1967 until November 27, 1967 The March Field Air Museum has dedicated the restoration of “693” to the memory of Colonel Robinson and Major Hoff, and to the sacrifices made by the personnel of the 497th TFS, and of the 8th TFW “The Wolf Pack” during the Vietnam War.

On August 30, 1966, Captain Kenneth D. Robinson and 1st Lt Sammie D. Hoff launched in an F-4C Phantom fighter/bomber (serial F-4C 63-7503) on a mission over southern North Vietnam. While over Quang Binh Province, NVN, it was hit by enemy fire. As “backseater”, Hoff ejected first. Other aircraft in the area had brief radio contact with him. It is assumed, but not known, that Robinson also safely ejected. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of Hoff or Robinson, and they were not released in 1973 when 591 American prisoners of war returned.

On 3 March 1978 the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for Major Sammie D. Hoff, and his status was changed to Killed in Action/Body not Recovered. Similar action was approved for Kenneth Robinson on 2 Feb 1979.

Ten years later, on 18 April 1989, the Defense Department announced that remains turned over by the Vietnamese on 15 December 1988 had been positively identified as those of Sammie Don Hoff and Kenneth D. Robinson.

In 1989, 23 years after he was shot down, Ken's remains were returned from North Viet Nam, and buried in Arlington 60-7277 with full military honors.

A restored F4C Phantom has been dedicated to Ken and his copilot, and is on permanent display at the Air Museum, March AFB, California.

To all of you who wore his bracelet, thought of him, and prayed for him, I thank you.

From his wife,
Elizabeth Robinson


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment