Cold War Era

Remembering Capt. Thomas, the co-pilot of Charcoal 01, the first B-52 shot down during Operation Linebacker II

He was the father of Derrick Thomas, a linebacker and defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs who was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2009. Capt Thomas never got to see his son play football

An American flag serves as a backdrop to an image of Capt. Robert J. Thomas and a B-52G Stratofortress. Thomas was the co-pilot of Charcoal 01, the first B-52 shot down during Operation Linebacker II over North Vietnam in 1972. Listed as missing in action for nearly six years, the captain’s remains were identified by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, and returned to his family in 1978. According to John Q. Public, the image was part of a display given to the captain’s son, Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Derrick Thomas, during a visit to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Jan. 27, 1997.

This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

He was the father of Derrick Thomas, a linebacker and defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs who was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2009. Capt Thomas never got to see his son play football.

Seventy-five Airmen died supporting the operation, 33 of whom died in the 15 downed B-52 Stratofortress bombers – the primary bomber flown during Operation Linebacker II. During the operation, also referred to as the 11-Day War or 11 Days of Christmas, more than 700 sorties were flown out of Andersen AFB and U-Tapao Royal Thai Airbase, Thailand. Fifteen thousand tons of munitions were dropped mainly on military targets in North Vietnam by the completion of the operation.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-52H Stratofortress 2nd BW, 20th BS, LA/60-0008 “Lucky Lady IV”

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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