Biloxi hopes remains of hometown war hero are found

Are the remains of a Biloxi Air Force lieutenant among those that North Korean recently returned to the United States? That’s the question Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich is asking of Defense Department officials in the wake of news that North Korea is returning remains from the Korean War.

First Lt. Robert Phillip Gaude Jr., whose mother, “Tonsie,” was a well-known Biloxian, was reported killed in action on July 10, 1953, while he was flying a combat mission over North Korea. Gaude (say “gaw-Day”) was 22.

Gilich is writing the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to let leaders know that “while there are no surviving Gaude members in our city, the Gaude family has a burial plot reserved for First Lt. Gaude in the case that his remains should ever be identified or returned.”

North Korea leaders, after a summit with President Donald J. Trump, agreed to return the remains of 200 servicemen. The Defense Department has acknowledged that as many as 7,700 U.S. servicemen, including 74  Mississippians, remain missing from the Korean War, which ran from 1950 to 1953. North Korea has turned over 55 boxes of remains, containing one dog tag, and Defense Department leaders have said the identification process could take years in some cases.

Gaude was the son of the late Robert and Hortense “Tonsie” Gaude, who lived on Hopkins Boulevard. The Gaudes’ daughter, Shirley, is also deceased. 

Gaude attended Sacred Heart Academy in Biloxi and later graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He completed Air Force pilot school in 1952 and was assigned as an F-84 Thunderbolt pilot with the 430th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. He flew 38 combat missions.  His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Service Medal and National Defense Medal. 

Gaude Lanes Bowling Center at Keesler Air Force Base is named in honor of Gaude. His mother, “Tonsie,” lived to be 104 years old, volunteered more than 10,000 hours at Biloxi Regional Medical Center, and was awarded a Distinguished Volunteer of the Year award in 1984 and an Outstanding Citizen Award in 1999.

The Gaude family gravesite in Southern Memorial Park includes this line: “In Memory of Robert P. Gaude Jr. who died in service of his country.”

Said Gilich in his letter to the Department of Defense: “I am simply asking that if First Lieutenant Gaude’s remains are among those identified, that we be notified so that the City of Biloxi may have an opportunity to arrange for the return of his remains to the family grave site here in Biloxi.”
See Mayor Gilich’s letter
See the list of Korean War missing personnel from Mississippi
Gallery: See Tonsie Gaude and more


News & notes: Facebook Live, council photos, Shuckers,  

Facebook Live: Councilman Nathan Barrett asks, “Why can’t we record and play meetings of the Biloxi City Council?” Sure, we answered, with encouragement from Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. The first recording, made Tuesday of a budget workshop in the high-ceiling city council room, is now on the city Facebook page. Audio improvements are in the works for future ‘casts. See it now by clicking here.

City Council:  To see photographs taken during the budget workshop, click here

Biloxi Night at MGM Park: The Biloxi Shuckers take on the Mobile Baybears for game three in a six-game homestand. Tonight is also City of Biloxi Night where Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard will throw-out the first pitch at 6:35 p.m. To see more and for ticket information, click here