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Robert Vessely '72

Date of birth: October 6, 1950

Date of death: September 2, 1983

Age: 32

Lucky Bag

From the 1972 Lucky Bag:


From Find A Grave:

Test pilot, Lt. Commander Vessely, was killed during the Navy's Caribbean maneuvers (READEX-2-83) when his Vought A-7E Corsair II collided with another during a landing approach at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico. (The other pilot survived.)

Spouse = Patricia Ann Calkins

Parents = John Rudolph Vessely and Betty Aileve Capouch Prochaska.

The crash occurred on September 2, 1983.

Other Information

From his high school yearbook

From researcher Kathy Franz:

As a member of St. Henry’s Church and Boy Scout Post 2452 of Medaryville, Indiana, Robert received the Catholic Scout’s Ad Altare Dei award in June 1967.

He graduated from West Central High School in Francesville in 1968. FTA 3, treasurer; Letterman 2, 3, 4; Annual Staff 4, Photographer; NHS 2, 3, 4, president 4; Newspaper Staff 3; Student council 3; Basketball 1, 2, 3; Baseball 1, 2, 3; Track 1, 2, 3, 4; Golf 3; Freshman class treasurer; Sophomore class vice-president; Junior class president.

He was appointed to the Naval Academy by Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind.

In April 1970, he was named to the Dean’s List for academic excellence and the Superintendent’s List for combining academics with outstanding leadership. That summer, he took a two-week Aviation Indoctrination Course at the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola.

In September, he and his brother Larry were ushers at their sister Nancy Ann’s wedding.

In October 1971, he spoke about the naval career program at the St. Joseph’s Calumet College. This was part of “Operation Midshipmen,” and Robert was accompanied by senior Michael G. Keith and Rear Admiral Draper Kauffman. About discipline, Robert was quoted as saying “When someone breaks a rule, his punishment isn’t meted out in the same way it used to be, like marching for hours on end with no explanation.” Both middies said they sense a distance from other youth their age because of the recent wave of anti-military feeling among youth.

In October 1972, Robert participated in exercise “Strong Express” off the coast of Norway aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Inchon. In February 1973, he completed Environmental Indoctrination School at Pensacola, and in April, he received basic jet training at Meridian.

He was survived by his parents John and Betty Vessely, brother Larry, and sister Nancy.

From the January/February 1984 issue of Shipmate:

LCdr. Robert Paul Vessely USN was killed in a mid-air collision at the Naval Air Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, on 31 August 1983. A memorial service was held in Puerto Rico and another at Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida, where he was attached to VA-82, prior to a Mass of Christian Burial being celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery where interment took place.

Appointed to the Naval Academy from the State of Indiana, he was active in the sky-diving and scuba clubs as a midshipman. Graduated with honors in mathematics in the Class of 1972, he entered flight training and was designated naval aviator, joining VC-10 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to fly F-8s. In 1976 he transitioned to the A7-E and served with VA-86 on board NIMITZ. Later he was selected for test pilot school at Patuxent River, Maryland, and was given the distinguished student award and remained at the school as an instructor until January 1983.

He received his Master of Business Administration degree from the Florida Technological Institute in 1982, and he was a member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association.

He is survived by his widow Patricia of Orange Park FL; a daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, and a son, Cole Robert, born 17 October 1983; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Vessely of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; and a brother and sister.

Class of 1972

Robert is one of 13 members of the Class of 1972 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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