Lieutenant Robert L. Harter
SAC 1934-1935

Robert Locke Harter Jr. was born to Robert and Gertrude Harter of Cleveland, Ohio on 22 November 1917. Like his brother Martin, Robert would attend St. Andrew’s College for one school year, playing for the 1st Rugby and 1st Basketball teams, before attending Annapolis Prep School.

He joined the Army Air Force in the spring of 1944 and was initially sent to Ellington Field in Texas and later at Tonopah, Nevada and Langley Field, Virginia. He finished his training in April 1945 and was sent to the Pacific Theatre where he joined the 868 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) as a B-24J Liberator pilot. On June 20, 1945 he was tasked with conducting a photoreconnaissance of several Japanese Airdromes on Celebes Island. While en route to the Mandai Airdrome, he broke formation with his wingman and began flying in the opposite direction eventually disappearing from site. Harter had been in regular radio contact with his wingman until he broke formation. A wide scale search was launched the following day, but it turned up empty handed. Harter’s B-24J had disappeared without a trace.

After the war, Australian and Dutch War Graves Commission officials interviewed Indonesian civilians in the area and they claimed to have seen a 4-engined aircraft-flying north and dumping equipment. It raised the possibility that they had experienced mechanical difficulties and later crashed at sea. To this day no trace of his B-24 or crew has ever been found. Robert left behind a wife, Mary and daughter Lee. He was awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart.

In August 1947 his father, Robert, wrote the school:

“Both boys had a very warm spot in their hearts for St. Andrew’s and it will always be a source of pleasure to both Mrs. Harter and myself that both boys has the opportunity to be associated with the College.”

Air Medal (US)

Purple Heart (US)