Robert R. Dockum Collection

Collection Items

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1968 (circa): Homecoming from Vietnam, Camping in Wisconsin
1968 (circa): Butler County Fair #1
1968 (circa): Butler County Fair #1
circa 1968
1968 (circa): Butler County Fair Display
1968 (circa): Butler County Fair Display
circa 1967
1968 (circa): Butler County Fair #2
1968 (circa): Butler County Fair #2
circa 1968
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Items with Viewable Media
Collection Identifier
Extent of Collection
49 reels of Super 8mm film totaling 5,400 feet; 3 open-reel audio tapes; 10 pages of information, newspaper clippings and scanned photographs.
Language Of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Chicago Film Archives holds the copyright for the films and documents created by Robert Dockum. For the films, photos, and additional paper materials published by others, any determination of copyright status for reproduction is the responsibility of the user.
Dockum, Robert R. (was created by)
Lieutenant Colonel Robert R. Dockum was born on February 2, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following World War II, when he was 8 years old, Dockum moved to Hamilton, Ohio, where his family owned a farm.

Growing up, Dockum was involved in the life of the farm (he took animals to the Butler County Fair each year), but he also became interested in moving images. He watched The Lone Ranger on the family's television set, and fell in love with John Wayne Westerns. When he was in high school, Dockum received a camera, and began making films of his own.

Dockum graduated from high school in 1956, and went to agricultural school at Ohio State University. He received his B.S. in 1960, and his M.S. (in economics) in 1961. Following graduation, Dockum completed a year-long jet pilot training course at the Vance Air Force base in Oklahoma. In 1961, upon completing the Air Force Reserve Officers Training program, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. 

Between 1961 and 1964, Dockum completed basic and primary pilot training, survival training, and helicopter pilot training. In 1964, as First Lieutenant, Dockum and his helicopter crew (stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia) were selected for the Tactical Air Command Aircrew Achievement Award. (While flying at night under low visibility, the oil pressure dropped to zero, and mid-transmission oil temperature gauge redlined. Dockum and the crew made a successful emergency landing on a roadway bordered by high-tension power lines.) 

Between May 2 and June 10, 1966, Dockum participated in a field program wherein instruments suspended from a helicopter were used to measure atmospheric conditions, including: refractive index, temperature and wind structure. These measurements were used to aid military understanding of atmospheric interferences on radar screens (including "angel" echoes seen by high-powered Wallop radars). 

Throughout his time in pilot training, Dockum continued to make amateur films — documenting new technologies, life on the various military bases and domestic scenes with his wife and three children. 

In 1967, Dockum volunteered to enlist in the Vietnam War. By June of that year, he was stationed at the Binh Thuy air base as a helicopter pilot and advisor. He brought his camera with him and used it whenever possible. His wife at the time, Joanne, regularly made home movies of their children visiting Dockum's parents' farm in Hamilton, and mailed them to Dockum at the Binh Thuy military base, where he watched them on his projector. 

In 1968, Dockum was awarded the Vietnamese Armed Forces Honor Medal, First Class — a military decoration of South Vietnam.

From 1968 to 1969, Dockum served as a helicopter instructor at the Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. He became certified with the Air Command and Staff College in 1974, and was employed for a number of years as an AFJROTC and economics instructor. Several of his helicopter pilot training lectures were recorded on film and VHS. 

Dockum has two sons, Todd and J.R. (James), and a daughter, Leah. He is currently retired, and living in California.