Bob Vickman was the son of Mordechai and Elsie Vickman. The Vickman family were Russian Jewish immigrants to the United States who arrived circa 1905. Some of the Vickmans resided in Chicago, Illinois and some moved to the Los Angeles, California area. Known as Morde, Mordechai's brother Joseph Vickman (my father) lived in Chicago as did several of his sisters (Tillie, Anna, Bertha, Rosa). A number of children and grandchildren of Joseph and his sisters still live in the Chicago area. Joseph's daughter (Marilyn Vickman Lichtman) lives in the Washington, DC area. Bob was the middle of three brothers. Harry Vickman, the eldest, died on November 22, 2009. The youngest, Ted, died in 2016. Morde's other brother lived in LA and his two children remain in LA as of 2016.
Bob attended Marshall High School in Los Angeles and eared a B.S. degree in Business Administration at UCLA. From 1942 to 1945
In 1943, at the age of 22, Bob Vickman joined the United States Army Air Forces and served on a photography unit in the Asian - Pacific front and had about two hundred hours of combat.
After the war, Bob went back to school. Before he was able to complete the requirements for graduation, Bob volunteered to serve in the "Machal" as a pilot in the airforce of the newly reborn Jewish State - the fledgling Israeli Air Force.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, on July 9, 1948, Bob went to a mission over the Israeli Negev Desert in an Avia S-199. He never returned from the mission, and his body was never recovered.
Vickman was the co-creator of the symbol of the famous 101 Squadron, Israel's first fighter squadron, which flew its first mission on May 29, 1948. The symbol was the Angel of Death, based on the Biblical ten plagues wherein the Angel of Death was the only plague that was able to completely defeat the Egyptians.
An Egyptian account helps clear up Vickman's fate. As Vickman egressed from an attack on a ship in Cairo harbour thought to be unloading troops and supplies, he spotted an REAF Lysander. Vickman couldn't have known that the Deputy Director General of the REAF, Air Commodore Abd al Moneim Mikaati, was flying that Lysander from Cairo to Al Arish. Mikaati recalled:
...My gunner - I don't remember his name - was a keen-sighted man and he spotted an Israeli Messerschmitt as it maneuvered into a position to attack. Of course, my Lysander was a very old kind of airplane but I'd flown these for a long time. Still, we were at a big disadvantage and you'd expect that such a contest could only end one way. The pilot of the Israeli aircraft came up behind us. I told my gunner to fire just before the Messerschmitt came into range and I went down to about 100 feet. Then the gunner fired and I throttled right back. You know the Lysander can drop like a stone to land in a field - like they did when the RAF took spies in and out of France. The Israeli must have been concentrating on keeping me in his sights because he dropped his nose to follow. He overshot and went right in, almost level with me. I honestly felt sick in my stomach and - I don't know why - I saluted him.
Mikaati does not say his gunner hit the plane.
The dedication and sacrifice of the Machal pilots, including Bob Vickman, are the subject of the recent movie "Above and Beyond - The Untold True Story".