In Memory Of,
Born -August 10, 1929
MIA- Dec 2, 1950
Thomas Raye Robertson,
a native of the Blackford community in Webster County, left the
United States for deployment in Japan in August of 1950, but soon
found himself in the midst of a bitter fight to repel Communist
North Korean aggressors from South Korea. Robertson would never
return from the barren, rocky landscape of Korea. Born on Aug. 10,
1929 to Henderson and Cora Robertson the youngest of seven children,
Robertson enlisted in the Army on Jan. 12, 1949 after spending almost
a year searching for a job following his graduation from Wheatcroft
High School in 1948.
After a short stay at Camp Breckinridge - then
home to the 101st Airborne Division - Pvt. Robertson was reassigned
to Ft. Lewis, Wash., where he was separated on Jan. 18, 1950. Robertson
returned home to Webster County, hoping to find a job, but found
the same bleak outlook he faced after graduating from high school.
To make matters worse, there was talk of an impending war in east
Asia, and facing almost certain military draft, he re-enlisted for
three more years in July of 1950.
The Korean War officially had
begun with the Communist invasion on June 25, 1950. Robertson joined
three brothers and one sister in service to the United States at
the time. On Sept. 9, 1950, Robertson joined hundreds of other under-equipped
and poorly trained American soldiers being sent to Pusan, South
Korea to face a powerfully equipped and well-trained North Korean
Army. Many North Koreans had fought for Russia and China just a
few years earlier during World War II.
As a member of the U.S. Army's
32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, Robertson joined
United Nations forces in pushing the Communist invaders northward
out of Seoul, the South Korean capital. After facing fierce resistance
in reaching its goals, the 32nd regrouped 350 miles south in Pusan
and headed out for an amphibious landing at Iwon, which eventually
reached the Yalu River along the Chinese border on Nov. 21, 1950. One week later, Communist Chinese forces struck these same UN forces
in a massive attack along the entire Korean front. In the melee,
the 32nd was cut off from the main force, where it faced a long
and bloody battle in freezing temperatures to work its way back
southward toward retreating UN forces. Assembling at Yongchon, the
32nd was again able to advance northward in heavy resistance, however,
Pvt. Robertson was declared missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950.
following the movement of his military unit, perhaps the final footsteps
of Pvt. Robertson can be traced. His family was notified on Jan.
12, 1951 of his status by telegraph at the Blackford Railroad Depot. Condolences would not follow until three years later, in a Jan.
4, 1954 letter from Secretary of War Robert T. Stevens. The letter
from Washington, D.C., notified loved ones that PFC Thomas R. Robertson
had been awarded the Purple Heart by President Dwight D. Eisenhower
for the supreme sacrifice he had made to his country. "We profoundly
appreciate the great degree of your loss, for in a very real sense,
the loss suffered by any of us in this present conflict is a loss
shared by all," the letter read.
As our nation prepares to commemorate
the 50th anniversary of the Korea War, which ended on July 27, 1953
with the loss of 54,246 American lives, sacrifices by individuals
such as Robertson should be honored. PFC Robertson, an MIA, is officially
listed as having died to hostilities while missing.
deceased brother, Forest, owned a farm and lived in Crittenden County
near Deanwood. His sister Virginia, also deceased, lived in Sturgis. Another brother, Denver, is a resident at Crittenden County Convalescent
Center. Brother Robert currently lives in Sturgis, while Blackford
remains the home of sister Irene Clark. Another sister, Daisy (Bobbie) Mc Hone, lives in South Carolina.
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who
has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who
serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the
flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag."
Father Dennis Edward O'Brien USMC
Story is courtesy of Daryl
Tabor and The Crittenden County Press
Note: At the time that this story was written, two of
Tommy Robertson's three brothers were still living. As
of January 11, 2004 they had both passed away.
POW/MIA Totals For All Wars :
WWII - 78,000 Soldiers
Korea - 7,500 + Soldiers
Vietnam - 2,031 Soldiers
Persian Gulf - 12 Soldiers
This web site is dedicated to all of the brave men
and women who have served and fought for America. You are the reason
we have our freedoms and you have made this country as great as
it is. You are not forgotten!