First Commander of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base
by Melissa LaScaleia
Colonel Robert Pasqualicchio has a long, interesting, and illustrious military career. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1942, and served in World War II. He was a combat fighter pilot, flying P-40s, P-47s and P-51s during the war.
In 1954, the City of Myrtle Beach donated its airport to the United States Air Force, and the military took over on June 1.
Robert was part of the team that was responsible for helping to open the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1956. The base itself became active on April 1, 1956. Robert was the very first commander of the newly formed 356th Fighter squadron of the 354th Fighter Group at the base. During these years, he flew F-100s with the group.
During his tenure in the military, he completed three combat tours, finishing more than 350 combat missions. He served in the Korean War, and during that time, he was shot down by the enemy and rescued by a helicopter. He also rescued five United States soldiers who were shot down behind enemy lines.
In 1951, upon his return from Korea, the White House summoned him to Washington, D.C. where he was personally recognized by President Harry S. Truman for his bravery.
His extensive career in fighter aviation was punctuated by his designation as a Top Gun member of the United States Air Force Fighter Group gunnery competition in 1956. He is the recipient of numerous combat medals and awards.
Robert also served as a F-4 commander in Vietnam. He worked at the U.S. Embassy in Germany and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Robert retired from the Air Force in 1973, making Myrtle Beach his home. He traversed the full circle of the history of Myrtle Beach airports by serving as director of airports for Horry County until 1986.
In 2018, he was honored by the Myrtle Beach city council.
Find his historical marker in the Market Common on Howard Ave., between Kruzel Street and Farrow Parkway.
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