ROBERT A. NEMECEK, LCDR, USN
Robert Nemecek '80
Date of birth: December 21, 1957
Date of death: March 21, 1991
From the Associated Press via VPnavy.com on March 21, 1991:
SAN DIEGO - Two Navy submarine-hunting planes collided Thursday, and all 27 people aboard were feared dead in cold, choppy waters 60 miles off Sourthern California, authorities said.
The Navy listed the crews as missing, but there was little hope any of the crew members from the downed P-3 Orions survived.
The all-weather planes were engaged in an anti-submarine Warfare exercise when they collided in bad weather, authorities said.
"I think we have to be realistic here," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bob Howard, a Navy public affairs officer at North Island Naval Air Station. "It is very cold out there. We're talking about what apparently is a mid-air collision...two aircraft. I would say it would be very grim."
Still, he said, the Navy was conducting an aggressive air and sea search of the crash site.
Search and rescue teams saw some debris from the planes but found no signs of life.
There was no word on how long the search would last, but Howard said the Navy would make "extraordinary" attempts to retrieve remains and wreckage.
The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the destroyer USS Merrill and at least two other ships, along with helicopters and fixed-wing planes, were assisting in the search.
A Navy helicopter crew flying in the area and sailors from the Merrill reported a ball of fire and loud explosion about 2:30 a.m. PST, Howard said during a briefing at North Island Naval Air Station.
He said the accident occurred over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.
The collision occurred as one P-3 Orion was arriving to relieve the other, which had just complted its part of the exercise, Howard said. Officials were uncertain how much contact the pilots had before the crash, he said.
Howard said it was believed 13 crew members were aboard one P-3 Orion and 14 on the other. The planes were on a training mission from Moffett Naval Air Station near San Jose. Names of crew members were withheld pending notification of their families.
The P-3s were in contact with land- and sea-based air controllers during the exercise, but officials were uncertain who was directing them at the time of the collision, Howard said.
Showers and strong winds were reported in the San Diego area overnight. The National Weather Service said pilots in the area reported severe turbulence about the time of the collision.
Howard said the Navy was uncertain what part, if any, weather played in the collision.
The P-3 Orion, driven by four propellers, is regularly used by weather forecasters to fly in hurricanes.
Robert is listed as 33 years of age and from Westmoreland, N.Y.
From the June 1991 issue of Shipmate:
LCdr Robert (Tony) Nemecek USN was killed in an aircraft accident involving two P-3 aircraft on an anti-submarine exercise southwest of San Diego on 21 March 1991. He was born on 21 December 1957 in Ithaca, New York. He was graduated from Notre Dame High School in Utica, New York, and was appointed to the Naval Academy from that state.
While at the Academy he qualified as a small craft commander; played varsity football; sang in the Glee Club; and was Class President his Fist Class Year.
After earaing his Naval Hight Officer's Wings he served with PatRon17 in Barbers Point; Military Personnel Command in Washington, D.C; was assistant navigator of USS AMERICA (CV-66); and attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. While in Washington, he was assigned as a military aide at the Reagan White House. He subsequently served with PatRon 50 at Moffett Field.
He was selected for early promotion to lieutenant commander and received numerous letters of commendation throughout his career. His awards included a Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal in addition to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
Two memorial services were held at NAS Moffett Field. The first on 27 March was a private service for family and friends at the Station Chapel. The second on 28 March was a memorial service for all 27 who were killed in the accident. CNO attended the latter. A Memorial Mass was celebrated on 6 April at 1100 in St. Anthony Of Padua Church, Utica, New York.
Survivors include his widow, Lorrie, of Mountain View, California, his mother and father, a brother, Martin, a sister, Mari Jo Stallings and his grandmother Mrs. Ethel Jefferson.
The family requests that any donation be sent to the Tony Nemecek Scholarship Fund, c/o Fr. Lorenz, Notre Dame High School, Utica, N.Y. 13502.
Dennis Redmond '86, Jay Williamson '86, Mark Hamilton '87, Ned Metcalf, Jr. '87, and Martin Cox '88 were also lost in the collision of two P-3 Orions of Patrol Squadron (VP) 50 off the coast of Southern California on March 21, 1991.