28 February 1941 – The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) proposal for a “day fighter”, the F-84 first flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948
Robert Vincent Willet, Jr. - KIA
“First Lieutenant Robert Vincent Willett Jr. entered the U.S. Air Force from Montana and served with the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 31st Tactical Fighter Wing.
On April 17, 1969, he piloted a single-seat F-100D Super Sabre (tail number 56-3403) as one of two aircraft on a night strike mission over enemy targets in Laos. During his second pass at the target, his aircraft received enemy anti-aircraft fire, and according to his flight leader, may have been hit.
After making his third pass over the target and releasing his ordnance, First Lieutenant Willett’s aircraft crashed and exploded southwest of the target area. No parachute was observed, no rescue beeper signals were received, and attempts following the crash to establish radio contact with First Lieutenant Willett failed. Efforts to locate or identify his remains have been unsuccessful. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted First Lieutenant Willett to the rank of Major (Maj).” (1)
Robert Willett was married only six weeks before he went to Vietnam.
Robert Vincent Willett Jr has a grave marker at the San Francisco National Cemetery. He is also memorialized at Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial. Robert is also honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC. His name is inscribed at VVM Wall, Panel 27w, Line 103.