To his kids he was everything. His daughter Carlynne Allbee recalled, "To me, he was a really nice guy. He had worked with the Boy Scouts because I ended up with his Boy Scout manual. I was raised in a house where there was no cussing - it just didn't happen - so he was every bit a gentleman.”
Like many other American's who served their country, at the end of WWII Robert returned to civilian life. He served SDPD from the end of 1945 until 1951 when once again his country needed him and he answered the call of duty - this time for combat duty in Korea.
On October 31, 1952, MaryLouise Harvey was in the delivery ward of Mercy Hospital where she gave birth to a son named Clyde. Little did she know Robert was half a world away piloting his B-29 back from a mission deep over North Korea.
Approximately nine miles northwest of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, the plane developed engine trouble and crashed into the sea. According to the Department of the Air Force Casualty Report dated November 12 of that year, Captain Harvey and his crew attempted a water landing, but the sea was rough and the choppy waves caused the aircraft to flip. Of the 14 crew members aboard the plane, only three were rescued. Captain Harvey was not among the living or dead pulled from the water. To this day his body has not been recovered.
Carlynne recounts the day she learned she would never see her father again. "I remember walking in the halls at Montezuma Elementary and somebody taking me by the hand and explaining to me that my dad wasn't coming back,” she says. “I was five years old and I think I was in kindergarten. It's kind of weird because I don't remember crying about it at that time because I was so used to him being gone that it was just more like, 'This time he's not coming back.'"
MaryLouise received the news in Mercy Hospital that her husband was missing. “Of course, my brother was born the same day, October 31st,” Carlynne says. “That was an ironic thing, too, because the ham radio operators got word back to my mom before the military did.”
The San Diego Evening Tribune ran the story of Detective Harvey's death a week later. Sometime thereafter the San Diego Zoo joined with the San Diego Police Officers Association to erect a flagpole honoring both Detective Harvey and Myrick. That flagpole and accompanying brass plaque still stands at the zoo entry and can be seen by everyone who visits the park - if they know where to look.
Sadly, the memory of Robert Harvey eventually became victim to the ravages of time. San Diego State University dedicated a war memorial for fallen alumni in 1996 and there was no question Harvey had attended San Diego State. He had taken six courses over three semesters but had not graduated, so newspaper accounts of his death never mentioned his Aztec connection. When the War Memorial was erected researchers never came across his name in connection with both his military service and his college studies. When his daughter realized the omission she contacted the Alumni Association about placing her father’s name on the War Memorial. She submitted evidence corroborating the circumstances of her father’s death and the question was put to the organization’s War Memorial committee.
"It was a very easy approval process,” says War Memorial Committee Chairman Col. Martin Wojtysiak, USAF (ret.). “Captain Harvey has earned a place on that memorial and I'm only sorry that we didn't get him up there sooner.”
When the San Diego Police Historical Association learned of Detective Harvey, we took action and added him to our memorial wall. Given how he perished in service to his country, we felt it was only appropriate to place his name besides the other members of SDPD who left the department to serve and paid the ultimate price. Today he joins Patrolman Myrick, Cadet Allen Mortensen and Officer Rico Borjas on our wall of honor.
As Captain Harvey’s remains were never recovered, his family has no grave to visit. Neither is there a tomb with a marker for his beloved MaryLouise, whose ashes were scattered in the waters on the opposite side of the same ocean where he disappeared. To make things even worse Carlynne was a victim of the 2003 Cedar fire. "Everything I had was lost” she says, including her father’s Boy Scout manual. Among the only possessions she recovered from the ashes of her home were a set of her father’s wings.
Let us always remember Robert Harvey and other brave people like him. To learn more about Detective Harvey or any of the other officers who have given their lives in defense of our country, please visit the museums website at sdpolicemuseum.com/heroes.html
A FORGOTTEN HERO
It would be a safe bet to say most people on the San Diego Police Department have never heard of Detective Robert G. Harvey. He only served for eleven years and much of his career was interrupted by military service. Nevertheless, we owe Detective Harvey an enormous debt a gratitude.
One of seven brothers, all of whom wound up in law enforcement in various agencies in the San Diego region, Robert joined the SDPD on July 1, 1941. Like many American's, outrage over the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led him and a group of San Diego police officers to join the US military on December 8, 1941.
Eventually 91 men would leave the SDPD to fight in WWII. Only one, Patrolman Frank Myrick would not return. He died in combat as a highly decorated war hero on July 17, 1944 in Pisa Italy.
Because of prior college, Robert was able to become an officer then an Army Air Corps pilot. It was during WWII Harvey took on some of the wars most dangerous missions. His reward was the Distinguished Flying Cross and a number of other prestigious air medals.
When he wasn't fighting Harvey served as a combat test pilot.
While serving his country, his wife MaryLouise Harvey joined a group of San Diego State students who helped put together a newsletter that was sent world-wide to service members and their families. By the end of World War II, The Aztec Newsletter was circulated to more than 3,000 service and home front readers.