Veterans' Memorial Project

Robert Paul Riggins

Champaign, IL

Vietnam War

College: Commerce & Business Administration

Graduation Year: 1952, 1964

Service Branch: Air Force

Rank: Major

Date of Birth: 01/19/1931

Date of Death: 04/22/1968

Affiliations: Theta Chi; Phi Eta Sigma; Alpha Kappa Psi; Varsity Wrestling; ROTC

Staff Note: 1952 Bachelor’s Degree was from College of Business; 1964 Master’s Degree was from College of Engineering, both from Urbana-Champaign campus.
Major Riggins was an F-4 fighter pilot in the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Air Force. His squadron was stationed in Da Nang Airbase, South Vietnam. Having piloted 98 missions over North Vietnam, Major Riggins only needed two more flights to go on rotation back to the United States and already had his orders. On April 22, 1968, Major Riggins boarded an F-4 fighter/bomber jet as bombardier/navigator. He was commanding a two-aircraft flight from Da Nang Airbase over Thua Thien Province, the second northernmost province in Vietnam. April 22 was a bad weather day, a day that Major Riggins could have chosen not to fly; it was also his eldest daughter’s birthday. Riggins’ plane made an erratic maneuver just before the crash, indicating that it may have been hit by groundfire or a rocket. Neither the plane nor his body were recovered. At the time of his death, Major Riggins was survived by his wife, Betty Sue, and two daughters, Amy and Paula.

– submitted by Betty S. Riggins, widow

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