Robert Lester Vickman was born on November 21, 1921 in Los Angeles to Mordechai and Elsie.
He studied art, photography and industrial drawing at the University of California. In 1943 he joined the US Air Force and flew 65 combat missions in the Asian-Pacific Theater as a member of the Aerial Reconnaissance Unit. Following his discharge he returned to the university to complete his studies, earning a B.S. in Business Administration from UCLA in 1945
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. Its symbol was the Angel of Death, derived from the Biblical account of the ten plagues wherein the Angel of Death was the only plague that was able to completely defeat the Egyptians.
In April 1948 Robert decided to join the fledgling Israel Air Force. On July 9, 1948 he failed to return from a mission over the Negev. It is believed that his Messerschmitt ME-109 plunged into the sea near Gaza after being hit by anti-aircraft fire. His body was never found. The Machal pilots, including Vickman, are the subject of the film Above and Beyond - The Untold True Story.