Robert goodman

This article is about the former Naval Flight Officer. For the executive Dean at Rutgers University, see Robert M Goodman.

Robert O. Goodman is a former A-6 Intruder Bombardier Navigator and class of 1978 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He was shot down over Lebanon on December 4, 1983. Captured upon ejection from his stricken plane, he was held captive for 30 days. His release on January 3, 1984, was facilitated by Reverend Jesse Jackson.


In October 1983 USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) was diverted to Beirut, Lebanon from her planned Indian Ocean deployment, after the Beirut barracks bombing killed 241 US Military personnel taking part in the Multinational Force in Lebanon, and spent the rest of that year and early 1984 patrolling the region. On 4 December, in response to two US F-14 aircraft havng been fired upon the previous day, ten A-6 Intruders of VA-85 "Black Falcons"[1] along with A-6 and A-7 Corsair aircraft from USS Independence (CV-62) took part in a bombing raid over Beirut.


While on a bombing mission, the two-man crew from VA-85 was hit by an infrared homing missile (SA-7 or SA-9) into the engine nozzle upon dropping its bomb-load, while still in a dive through 1,800 feet (554 m) AGL. The fuselage and a wing were immediately engulfed in flames, and then the right side engine erupted.

The pilot, United States Navy Lieutenant Mark Lange, a Naval Aviator, tried to control the aircraft in order to safely eject the crew. After a rapid, low-level descent, the Intruder was seen to pull up and likely stalled, resulting in a crash on a 1,000 AGL hill, above a village surrounded by Syrian AAA-positions. Lange ejected both himself and Goodman in the final moment, but his parachute failed to properly deploy by the time he hit the ground. Lange's left leg was severely injured and he died shortly after capture by Syrian troops and Lebanese civilians. Goodman, rendered unconscious, broke three ribs, injured a shoulder and a knee during the landing, but was otherwise stable. He was captured and awakened by the Syrians and taken to Damascus.


Goodman was held for over a month, during which the US government made numerous attempts to free him. He had a few visitors, including Ambassador Robert Paganelli who brought him Christmas dinner.


In January 1984, Jesse Jackson travelled to Libya and Syria within a party of approximately 20 volunteers including; Wyatt T Walker, Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan. The mission's peaceful purpose was accomplished, as they secured the release of Goodman.[2][3]

White House Reception

U.S. President Ronald Reagan welcomed LT Goodman at the White House January 4, 1984, hours after he and Rev. Jackson arrived back in the U.S.

Reagan said that LT Goodman "exemplified qualities of leadership and loyalty" and said Jackson's "mission of mercy" had "earned our gratitude and our admiration." In turn, Jackson praised Reagan for sending a letter to Syrian President Assad calling for cooperation in bringing peace to Lebanon.[4]


Following captivity, release, and return to the United States, Lieutenant Goodman remained in active service.

As a Lt Commander, Bobby Goodman was featured in an episode of "Wings over the Gulf" (In Harms way, 1992) in which he discussed his experiences in the Gulf War of 1991 with Iraq where he flew the A-6 Intruder.

He retired as a Commander in 1995.

See also


  • Road to Damascus: A Journey of Faith, by Wyatt Tee Walker

External links

  • Collection of news articles about Goodman
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