Robert L. Rutherford

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Robert L. Rutherford
Robert L Rutherford.jpg
Nickname(s) Skip
Born (1938-12-11)December 11, 1938
Luling, Texas
Died July 4, 2013(2013-07-04) (aged 74)
San Antonio, Texas
Buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1961–1996
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron
435th Tactical Fighter Squadron
339th Tactical Fighter Squadron
347th Combat Support Group
18th Tactical Fighter Wing
Air Force Recruiting Service
17th Air Force
United States Transportation Command
Air Mobility Command
Battles/wars Cold War
Vietnam War
Persian Gulf War

Robert Lynn Rutherford (December 11, 1938 – July 4, 2013) was a former General in the United States Air Force and the former commander of the United States Transportation Command. he was born in Luling, Texas.[1]


Early career[edit]

Robert entered the Air Force in 1961 as a distinguished graduate of Texas State University's Reserve Officer Training Corps program. While in college, he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. Upon graduation he married his college sweetheart Grace (Kita) Hyatt. They had two boys Jim and Greg and were happily married for more than 50 years. After graduation, he was a student in undergraduate pilot training, then flight instructor at Reese Air Force Base in Texas. During this time, he instructed students in the T-38 Talon. In 1964, he graduated from the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base. From October 1966-April 1967, Robert was a F-4 Phantom pilot with the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing, at George Air Force Base in California. From April to July 1967, he was an F-4 aircraft commander with the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. From July 1967-May 1968, he was a Phantom commander with the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. During this time, he was deployed to Vietnam, where he flew 161 combat missions, including 101 over North Vietnam.[2]


From May 1968-January 1971 he was the operations staff officer, Airspace and Air Traffic Control Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters Air Training Command, at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. In from January 1971-July 1971, he earned a degree from the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. Between July 1971 and May 1972, he was the staff officer, Colonels Group, directorate of personnel, at the Headquarters of the United States Air Force, Washington, D.C.. During the period between June 1972 and May 1973, he was the chief, critical skill management division, Colonels Group, Directorate of Personnel, Headquarters of the United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. From May 1973 to February 1975, he acted as the chief, Regular General Officer Assignment Division, Directorate of Personnel, Air Force Headquarters. Between February and September 1975, he was a T-38 instructor pilot and commander of the 71st Flying Training Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. From September 1975 to July 1978, Robert served as the deputy commander for operations, 38th Flying Training Wing; assistant deputy commander for operations, 347th Tactical Fighter Wing; commander, 339th Tactical Fighter Squadron; commander, 347th Combat Support Group at Moody. Between August 1978 to July 1979, he attended the Air War College at Maxwell. In 1979, he earned a master's degree in business administration at Auburn University.[2]


From July 1979 to June 1980, he served as the deputy colonel for operations, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Robert then served as the vice commander, 18th Tactical Fighter Wing; commander, 18th Tactical Fighter Group; commander, 18th Tactical Fighter Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan between June 1980 and August 1982. For the next year, beginning in September 1982, Robert served as vice commander, Air Force Military Personnel Center, and assistant deputy chief of staff for military personnel at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Between September 1983 and January 1985, he was the commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service, and deputy chief of staff for recruiting, Headquarters Air Training Command at Randolph. Between January 1985 and March 1987, he was the deputy director of programs and evaluation, director of manpower and organization, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Resources, at Air Force headquarters. In 1986, he graduated from the National and International Security Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.[2]

From March 1987 to April 1988 he served as the deputy chief of staff for operations, and deputy director of operations for the European Air Combat Operations Staff, Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, West Germany. During the time period from April 1988 to October 1989, he was the commander of the 17th Air Force, Allied Sector Three, and Allied Tactical Operations Center, at Sembach Air Base, West Germany. From October 1989 to May 1991 Robert was the deputy chief of staff for programs and resources, deputy chief of staff for productivity and programs, at the Headquarters of the United States Air Force.[2]

Post-Cold War[edit]

Between May 1991 and May 1992, he was the vice commander of the Military Airlift Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. From May 1992 to October 1994, he was the vice commander, then commander of the Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. From October 1994-August 1, 1996, he was the commander in chief for the United States Transportation Command and commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. In 1996, he retired with the rank of four-star general.[2]

Over his career, he has flown over 4,000 flying hours in various airlift, tanker, fighter and trainer aircraft.[2]

He died of natural causes on July 4, 2013 at San Antonio, Texas.[3] He is interred at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.[4]


Awards earned during his career:[2]

Promotion dates[edit]

Dates of promotion:[2]

  • Second Lieutenant May 28, 1961
  • First Lieutenant January 16, 1963
  • Captain January 16, 1966
  • Major July 1, 1969
  • Lieutenant Colonel May 1, 1973
  • Colonel March 1, 1978
  • Brigadier General June 1, 1983
  • Major General August 1, 1986
  • Lieutenant General October 1, 1989
  • General February 1, 1993


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links[edit]