Lt Col Robert Joseph Hymel, USAF, Retired
August 13, 1946 - September 11, 2001
Lt Col Robert Joseph Hymel, United States Air Force, Retired, was murdered in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. He worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as a senior management officer in the Office of the Comptroller, Deputy Comptroller for Force Structure and Management. He was responsible for DIA joint manpower issues that focused on military human intelligence management and organization.
Bob Hymel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Elsie and Sidney Hymel - a short man, 5' 6", and a cajun - what he lacked in height he made up for in character. He attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1969. Like many in the military, he continued his education while on active duty and received his Masters Degree in 1974. He married his wife, Pat, in 1971, they met in Del Rio, Texas when he was going through pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base. They have a daughter, Natalie, and two granddaughters, Lauren and Kayla. His church was important to him and he was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He loved to play golf, was an avid Redskins fan, and loved to tinker around the house. He was also a constant at his wife's school, Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington, where she is the Principal.
He went into the Air Force in December 1969 and was awarded his Air Force pilot wings in 1970. He flew B-52 bombers while assigned to the Strategic Air Command and was a decorated Vietnam combat pilot. In December 1972, his plane was hit by a missile over Hanoi. He got the plane back, but it crashed upon landing, killing sll but two members of the crew and critically injuring Hymel. They had elected not to bail out, because of not being sure the wounded gunner could bail out, who did survive. He recovered, after spending 1 1/2 years in the hospital, and had to stop flying, but spent another 20 years in the Air Force. His flying medals included the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. He retired from the Air Force in September 1993 after obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Bob began his civilian career with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) on March 7, 1994.
Robert Hymel was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Secton 64 with the others from the Pentagon. During his service, a B-52 flew over and tipped its wings as hundreds watched in awe.
During the course of his 24-year military career, Bob was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal, among others. He was a veteran of two campaigns, Vietnam and Desert Shield/ Desert Storm.
Mr. Hymel is survived by his wife, Pat; daughter, Natalie, and her husband, Patrick Conners; granddaughters, Lauren and Kayla; mother, Elsie; brother, Clyde; and sister, Mary.