All Veterans Memorial & Honor Rolls
Old Catawba County Courthouse NC
Newton, Catawba County, North Carolina
"That Freedom and Justice Might Prevail,
These Catawbans Died"
While compiling this page I noticed one MIA listing from the honor roll of the fallen in VietNam, Capt. Robin F Gatwood, USAF. Millions of Americans know of the incident that claimed the life of this young man from Hickory, but only a handful can place his name with the event.
On April 2, 1972, the 26 year old was the most junior officer of the technical crew assigned to an Air Force electronic counter measures aircraft flying a support mission protecting a cell of B-52 bombers. His aircraft was hit and only one crewman is known to have survived. Gatwood and the other five officers are listed as MIA, but were likely killed in the crash.
The lone survivor, Lt Colonel Iceal Hambleton, spent the next 12 days evading capture. Approximately 20 men died, or were captured, in various unsuccessful attempts to rescue the downed intelligence analyst. Hambleton's ordeal and the story of the dedicated men that fought to save him were chronicled in his book "Bat 21" and later made into a hit movie starring Gene Hackman as Hambleton. Hambleton died in 2004 at the age of 85, from complications of lung cancer.
There are hundreds of names listed on these honor rolls. Each of them holds a story unique in perspective. The most sobering thought of this memorial is that the very latest plaque for "Middle East Conflicts" already has three Catawbans listed and room is reserved for more. We expect more. The next time you pass by a memorial of this type, please spend a moment in appreciation of the sacrifice it represents, for it is unending.