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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Robert Withrow Vietnam War Collection

Identifier: 2008-10-15
The Robert Withrow Vietnam War Collection is related to the 1965-1967 military service of Robert Withrow, a Fireman (E-3) aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. The collection consists of photographs taken by Withrow, as well as yearbooks and military patches collected by Withrow.

The color photographs, which do not feature any identifying captions, primarily feature aircraft aboard the USSKitty Hawk, including a Grumman A-6F Intruder, a North American A-5 Vigilante, and a McDonnell F-4D Phantom II. There is one image that shows the USSKitty Hawk at sea with a flight deck loaded with aircraft and one that shows the wake behind the aircraft carrier. Additionally, there is one image featuring a gun formation at an unidentified fort.

The collection also includes four (4) patches. Two (2) patches feature "USSKitty Hawk CVA-63" across the top. One patch reads "Far East Cruise 1965-1966" along the bottom and features an image of the ship at sea in the center. Around the image is small text listing the ports of call: "Hawaii, Yokosuka, Japan, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Philippines." The second patch reads "Far East Cruise 1966" along the bottom and includes a center image of the ship with red dots on green representing the various ports of call and the words "7th Fleet, Task Force 77, Yokosuka, Japan, Okinawa, Hawaii, Formosa, Hong Kong, Philippines." The third patch reads "Sorry About That - Viet Nam 66-67" and features two aircraft flying over a bent over male figure. The final patch reads "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" with an image of Vietnamese junk (ship) backed by three red horizontal lines in a reference to the flag of South Vietnam, which is red lines against a yellow background.

Additionally, the collection includes two cruise books, or yearbooks, for the 1965-1966 and 1966-1967 WestPac tours of the USS Kitty Hawk. The books are each in their original cardboard mailers; the 1965-1966 mailer has severe wear on one of the corners, which has impacted the yearbook as well, though to a lesser degree.

The 1965-1966 yearbook is green cloth with a golden embossed image of USSKitty Hawk in the lower right hand corner. Beneath the image is "USSKitty Hawk 1965-1966." The 1966-1967 yearbook is black leather with a golden embossed circular seal featuring the Wright Brothers' Flyer I airplane [flown at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina] in flight over waves and USSKitty Hawk-CVA 63. Underneath the seal is "USSKitty Hawk 1966-1967."

The books are comprised primarily of photographs, including group portraits of military personnel, in addition to snapshots of military personnel and activities, such as daily work aboard the ship. A few aircraft are featured, as well as military armaments and sight-seeing snapshots during the cruises. Various ports are included, such as the Phillipine Islands, Japan, Hong Kong (China), and Vietnam. The books also discuss day-to-day operations and provide background on what various divisions and squads were responsible for, such as "S-5" stewards being responsible for preparation and serving officers' meals and stateroom cleaning and "E" Division handling electrical duties for "telephone, circuits, and wiring."


  • 1965-1967


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.4 Cubic Feet (1 full-width letter size document box)


Robert Withrow (b. 1946) was born in Seattle, Washington and served as a U.S. Navy Fireman (E-3) aboard the USS Kitty Hawk from 1965-1967. The collection contains photographs, patches, and yearbooks related to his service.

Biographical Note: Robert Withrow

Robert Withrow was born May 3, 1946 in Seattle, Washington and attended Cleveland High School.

Withrow served as a Fireman (E-3) aboard the USSKitty Hawk for two WestPac (Western Pacific) cruises in 1965-66 and 1966-67. Withrow served on active duty from 1964-67 and was discharged from the Inactive Reserves in about 1970.

After his service, Withrow worked for Boeing at Boeing Field (Seattle, Washington) and at Paine Field (Everett, Washington). He worked on the 747 prototype (now owned by The Museum of Flight) and Canadair CL-13B Mk.6, which served as Boeing’s photographic chase plane at the time of the 747's development.


Biography derived from collection materials.
Historical Note: Vietnam War The Vietnam War between North Vietnam and South Vietnam lasted from approximately 1955 until 1975 and was fought with the goal of reunification. The North Vietnamese were aided financially and militarily by China and the Soviet Union, while South Vietnam was backed by the United States.

Regular U.S. deployments began after the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident. However, U.S. involvement peaked in 1968 following the Tet Offensive, which was an attempt by North Vietnam forces to execute surprise attacks on military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The Tet Offensive triggered the decline of support from the U.S. public, eventually dovetailing into the anti- Vietnam War movement. In May 1968, peace talks began between the United States and North Vietnam in Paris, France.

Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began in 1973 as part of "Vietnamization," a policy of President Richard Nixon's that sought to end American involvement by providing equipment and training to the South Vietnamese with the goal of transferring fighting solely to their forces. Additionally, President Nixon suspended military offensives against North Vietnam and on January 15, 1973, direct U.S. involvement ended.

Despite all parties signing the Paris Peace Accords, fighting continued between North and South Vietnam but South Vietnam was not able to sustain its defense against North Vietnam. The Vietnam War ended in April 1975 when the North Vietnamese Army captured Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam. The countries reunified the following year.

Source and Further Reading:

Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: a history, New York: Viking Press, 1983.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Archival Materials at The Museum of Flight

There is additional material related to the Vietnam War in the following collections:

Roy T. Church Vietnam War Photograph Collection (2017-09-29). The collection contains photographs, slides, and a map related to Church's service as a navigator and bombadier in Vietnam from 1968-1969.

Calvin and Yun Yau Kam Papers (2017-03-24). The collection contains military documents, photographs, and slides relating to the military service of Calvin H. Kam during Vietnam and photographs and clippings related to his father's, Yun Yau Kam, service during World War II and the Korean War.

Bruce Mennella Vietnam War Collection (2017-04-07). The collection contains photographs and a small amount of ephemera related to U.S. Navy Air Intelligence Officer Bruce Mennella's Vietnam service from 1968-1972.

Jim Platt Vietnam War Collection (2017-10-19). James H. Platt served in Vietnam from 1967-1978 as a U.S. Air Force Rescue Commander. The collection contains twenty (20) slides and one (1) photocopy document related to his service.


Guide to the Robert Withrow Vietnam War Collection
Completed - Level 3
L. Zaborowski, J. Parent
2015, 2018
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
2nd Edition

Revision Statements

  • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018: This finding aid was updated to include additional subject terms, related materials and to reflect updated standards.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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