Robert Laurin Standerwick, Sr
01 Jun 1999
I have a POW/MIA bracelet with Robert's name on it and have learned a lot of what happened to him .
I have no idea how to contact his family, as I would like to see if they would like to have the bracelet.Lori Fulton
31 Jan 2006
I am writing because I too have a POW/MIA bracelet for Lt Col Standerwick. I purchased it in the summer of 1993, at The Wall, while on a cross country driving tour of the US.
The bracelet is special to me for several personal reasons in addition to honoring a fellow American who is not yet home. The bracelet was the first one I picked up and the date that Lt Col Standerwick was shot down is exactly 3 months before I was born. I do not know if it makes sense to anyone, but when I read the date I felt a connection that I still can not explain.
I should note that the summer of 1993 was my last summer as a civilian. I began my own military career soon after. As is part of the military life I have moved several times over the last 12+ years. It was during my most latest move that I thought the bracelet was lost. I searched off and on for almost a year, and finally found it again last month. That was when I decided to follow up and see if there had been any changes to Lt Col Standerwick's status.
To the Standerwick family I extend my continued support and heart-felt prayers. I wear Lt Col Standerwick's bracelet with pride and hope that I do honor to his memory and your love to him.Respectfully,
E-mail address is not available.
08 Jul 2006
I too wear a bracelet with Colonel Standerwick's name on it. I worked in the MIA/POW pay accounts section of the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center in the 1970s and have always had a warm spot in my heart for those who were not accounted for.Alan Lewis
Lt Col USAF Retired
28 May 2007
I am 54 years old, and I, too, have a bracelet with Lt. Col. Robert Standerwick's name that I received when I was in college at the age of 18 over 36 years ago shortly after he was shot down. I never took the bracelet off all through college and prayed for him and now the family through the years. On this Memorial Day, 2007, I am still humbled by and thankful for the service and sacrifice by him and many others.E-mail address is not available.
Notes from The Virtual Wall
On 03 Feb 1971, Lt Col Standerwick and Major Norbert A. Gotner launched from Ubon RTAFB in F-4D tail number 66-8777 on a sensor-dropping mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. While operating near Ban Kantaloung southwest of the Ban Karai Pass their aircraft was hit by AAA fire and the two men were forced to leave the aircraft.
Both survived the ejection without significant injury and once on the ground established voice communications with each other and with US aircraft. Weather conditions precluded immediate SAR operations, and before SAR aircraft could attempt to pick them up communications had been lost with both Standerwick and Gotner. The last radio call from Standerwick indicated that he had been shot and was surrounded by enemy troops. Both men were classed as Missing in Action.
Major Gotner had in fact been captured and would survive captivity, returning to US custody on 28 March 1973 - but he knew nothing more about Standerwick. Lieutenant Colonel Norbert A. Gotner retired from the Air Force in 1978 and had a 15 year career with Hewlitt Packard. He passed away September 25, 2013 and was buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland Oregon.
Robert Standerwick was continued in MIA status, gaining promotion to Colonel, until the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death on 20 June 1980. At that time his status was changed to "Died while Missing, Body not Recovered". His remains have not been repatriated.
Daughters search for MIA father opens old woundsThe Journal, Salina, Kansas -- Sunday February 27, 1983
By Beccy Tanner, Staff Writer MANKATO - They still talk about him in the quiet moments of an evening. He was the "almost all-American boy," a good student, outgoing, tall, blonde and special.
"I went into the service when I was 36 years old," the boy's father said. "And when the time came for him? Well, he was in school, going to college. He didnt have to go. He was in pre-med ... but he knew I enlisted. And he didn't want to be drafted."
"So he went off and enlisted, without even telling us, 'cause he knew I'd done it that way."
That was ... uh, so long ago," his parents, Bob and Dorothy Standerwick of Mankato, said Saturday evening as they recalled when their son Robert Jr. enlisted in the Air Force cadet program.
The year was 1952 and young Bob Standerwick was a University of Kansas junior. Before his parents knew it, he had climbed the ranks became a lieutenant colonel then a full colonel - - and, at the same rubbed elbows with top notch men.
"He just was the type of guy who worked himself up the hard way," Bob said. But then something happens in this elderly couples story.
It is at this point, when their voices break, there are pauses in the conversation. For in February 1971, their only son was shot down over the rugged terrain of Laos.
In those 12 years since Bob Standerwick was last seen or heard from, his parents, and wife, and four children have missed him dearly. Almost two weeks ago, Lynn Standerwick, 25, of Garden Grove, California, legally entered Laos in search of her father.
"She made up her mind and told us she wasn't going to work another year until she found out something about her dad," Dorothy said. "She wanted to know exactly what had happened to him."
And we went along with the idea. Because ... well, I don't feel that there has been enough of an effort made ... I sure could never reconcile he was gone ... Yet after all this time, we have mixed feelings. One part of me tells me I can believe he's alive. Another part tells me I shouldn't because of all the time ... And the fact that so few in similar circumstances have ever turned up alive."
Word of Col. Standerwick has been in limbo ever since his F2 phantom jet was shot down during the Vietnam War. An aircraft commander, Col. Standerwick parachuted and it was known he was alive when he reached the ground, because he was in radio contact with the Air Force.
The elder Standerwicks said they taught their son to be proud of his heritage, to love his family and country. "What type of guy was he? He was close to his children," Dorothy said. "He made an effort to do things with them - - to show them things a lot of kids don't get."
"He took them to a dude ranch out in the country to milk a cow, took them to Rapid City, S.D., and then hired a helicopter to take them to see Mt. Rushmore - - he just liked doing things with his kids, did things others might not do. Thats what made him special." And so, his daughter went --- to search for her father.
Last week, her grandparents heard she was detained in Thailand for two days. She was arrested for possession of a high-powered radio transmitter. The arrest was near the Thai-Laotian border.
She and two other Americans were seized at a house which was believed previously occupied by former Green Beret, Lt. Col. James "Bo" Gritz who last November staged an abortive raid into Laos in hopes of rescuing Americans allegedly being held in communist Indochina.
Slowly, the news of their son and granddaughter drifts back to the Standerwicks. The questions remain, "Do they worry about their son and granddaughter? Do they approve of what she has done?"
"Well, let me ask you this --- wouldn't you do the same for your dad?" Bob asked. "That little girl is determined." And as far as my son --- yes, I believe he's alive. There are plenty of caves back in those jungles that they (Laotians) could have POWs ... I tell you, I'm glad Lynn did what she did. I just wish there were more people like her."
The last word the Standerwicks received about their granddaughter, they said, was on Thursday from a Los Angeles Times reporter. "He told us she had been detained, was released and that she was OK," Dorothy said. "That's all we've heard."
The Belleville Telescope from Belleville, Kansas, page 1March 3, 1983
The granddaughter of Mankato residents is being held in Thailand after trouble developed between that country's authorities and a group to which she belongs, searching for Vietnam era veterans missing in action.
Mr. and Mrs. R. W. (Bob) Standerwick of Mankato are the parents of Col. R. L. Standerwick, missing since 1971 when he was reported shot down while flying an Air Force Jet over Laos. The Mankatoans' granddaughter, Lynn Standerwick Davis, 26, has been held since February 13 by Bangkok, Thailand, police on a charge of possession of illegal high-powered radio equipment.
And in a recent development, retired Green Beret Lt. Col. James Gritz surrendered to Thai authorities on Monday, February 28, claiming to have confirmation that "more than 10 Americans were still alive and held captive in Southeast Asia." Gritz is the leader of the expedition that included the Standerwicks' granddaughter, and he told the Associated Press the radio equipment for which she was held was his.
It is not known whether Col. Standerwick is among the 10 Americans allegedly held captive, or if Gritz has any specific Information about who the Americans are. He told the AP that he had "returned from a long walk" and would not confirm or deny allegations that he had been across the border into Laos in a search for MIA's. Gritz, 44, of Westchester, Calif., is being held in the Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, police station under guard on charges of possession of a high- powered radio transmitter, which could net him a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted.
A highly decorated former Special Forces officer, he made an unsuccessful raid into Laos in November that was financed in part by movie stars Clint Eastwood and William Shatner, attempting to locate POW's he believed were held there.
In 1971, the F-4 phantom jet Colonel Standerwick was flying was shot down over Laos. Recently an Associated press release reported that his daughter, Lynn, had been detained in Thailand while seeking information about her MIA father. Mrs. Bob Standerwick told The Solomon Valley Post that a reporter from the Los Angeles Times had called them and said that Lynn had been detained.
Mankatoan's Granddaughter Returns From ThailandThe Belleville Telescope from Belleville, Kansas, page 1, March 17, 1983
The granddaughter of Mankato residents has been expelled from Thailand after participation in a group trying to find evidence of Americans being held prisoner in Southeast Asia. Lynn Standerwlck, also called Lynn Standerwick Davis in some news media reports, was ordered to leave that country after receiving suspended one-year jail sentences on a charge of illegal possession of a high-powered radio transmitter.
Ms. Standerwick is the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.W. (Bob) Standerwick of Mankato. Their son, R.L. Standerwick, was a colonel in the Air Force when In 1971 his jet was shot down while flying over Laos. Col. Standerwlck's wife and his daughter, Lynn, 26, both have been involved In Vietnam POW-MIA (prisoner of war--missing In action) groups, since his disappearance. Mrs. Bob Standerwick said the family had "never completely given up hope that Col. Standerwick could be found," and that the expedition to Laos led by retired Green Beret Lt. Col. James Grltz claimed to have found evidence the POW's were alive. No information has surfaced In news reports to indicate that Grltz has any positive identification of specific Americans lost.
After being returned to the United States, Gritz was taken immediately for questionhig by the CIA (the federal Central Intelligence Agency). Gritz claims to have recently recovered evidence that proves Americans are alive somewhere in Laos, but will not confirm or deny that he had entered Laos from Thailand to obtain the information.
Gritz, Westchester, Calif., and Lynn Standerwick, of Los Angeles, Calif., were tried in the Thai community of Nakhon Pahnom along with three other Californians on the illegal transmitter possession. After the verdict was reached, the defendants expressed relief in view of the fact that they could have faced five-year prison terms, and because Thai courts usually take several weeks to take action, according to the Associated Press.
The AP said after the verdict was announced, Ms. Standerwick, a former student at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, hugged the trial defense attorney.
To date, Colonel Robert Standerwick has not been found.
Bob Standerwick and his wife Dorothy had moved to Mankato from Nebraska and started Bob's Inn on August 1, 1931. Dorothy, born September 8, 1909 in Primrose Nebraska, passed away September 18, 1983. Robert, born September 2, 1908 in Albion Nebraska, passed away November 8, 1983.
Their combined obituaries listed survivors as: a daughter, Suzette Standerwick McPhail, Tucson, Ariz.; a son, Col. Robert Standerwick, U.S. Air Force, MIA; five sisters (3 of Dorothy's and 2 of Roberts's), and five grandchildren (4 from Colonel Standerwick). They are buried in plot O-211A in Mount Hope Cemetery, Mankato, Kansas.
In addition to his parents, Col Standerwick was survived by his wife Carolyn and 4 children (Lynn, Sherrill, Ann, and Robert Jr), living in Bellevue, Nebraska.
- - The Virtual Wall, June 21, 2014
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