Leading Myrtle Beach’s 354th to Readiness in the A-10 Aircraft
by Melissa LaScaleia
Robert H. Reed was born on October 10, 1929, in Elkhorn City, Kentucky. He attended Warfield High School in Kentucky, and after graduation attended Syracuse University. He graduated in 1959 with a degree in international relations, and earned a master’s of public administration from The George Washington University in 1965.
Robert enlisted in the Air Force, and completed his pilot training at Marana Air Base and Williams Air Force Base, both in Arizona, from 1952-1953. He graduated as a second lieutenant, and completed F-94C All-Weather Fighter-Interceptor School at Moody Air Force Base, in Georgia. In 1953, he was stationed at New Castle Air Force Base, Delaware, as part of the 332nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
Robert had numerous military assignments. In 1954, he was assigned as an F-89D pilot at Ladd Air Force Base, in Alaska, as part of the 18th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. Two years later, he was assigned to the 319th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Bunker Hill Air Force Base, Indiana. He completed tours of duty at Gettysburg, South Dakota; Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota; 916th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Prince George, British Columbia; and as flight commander at Griffiss Air Base, New York, where he flew F-101Bs as part of the 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
In 1963, he was assigned to Headquarters 26th Air Division as an aide-de camp to Major General Arthur Agan, Jr. at Hancock Field, New York. Robert completed Air Command and Staff College in 1965. Afterwards, he was assigned to Headquarters Air Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colorado where he acted as an operations staff officer and executive officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations.
In 1968, during the Vietnam War, he served as operations officer for the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. While he was there, he completed 305 combat hours in F-4 Phantom IIs.
He graduated from Air War College in 1972.
In 1974, he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Six Man Group, a special study team established by the chief of staff to investigate and offer advice on the development and employment of Air Force forces. In March, 1975, he was assigned to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, where he served as vice commander. In August 1976, he became commander, and served in that capacity until 1979. Among his many accomplishments during this time, Robert successfully transitioned the 354th from A-7D aircraft to the new A-10— which offered closer air support than previous craft.
Under his tutelage, the 354th became trailblazers in both preparation and readiness with A-10s. Their’s was the first operationally-ready combat wing in the Air Force that was manned of A-10 aircraft. With the A-10, the wing demonstrated high aircraft sortie rates; an ability to perfect rapid re-arming and turnaround techniques; maintain a high aircraft in-commission rate; refine close air support tactics; and perfect the capability to operate from austere locations.
Robert served as commander of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1979, as well as commander of the Air Defense Weapons Center at Tyndall Air Force Base from 1980-1982. He also served as the Air Force representative for the United States Delegation to the Military Staff Committee, for the United Nations. He acted as chief of staff of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in June 1986. He was promoted to the rank of general in July.
During his career, General Reed flew 6,100 hours. His military decorations and awards include: the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal.
He passed away in Myrtle Beach on December 24, 2017.