Robert Huyser

Robert E. Huyser
Robert E. Huyser pictured as a lieutenant general, circa 1973
Nickname Dutch
Born June 14, 1924
Paonia, Colorado
Died September 22, 1997(1997-09-22) (aged 73)
Travis Air Force Base, California
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1943-1981
Rank General
Commands held Military Airlift Command
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Air Medal

Robert Ernest Huyser (June 14, 1924 – September 22, 1997) was a four-star general in the United States Air Force who served as Deputy Commander in Chief, United States European Command (DCINCEUR) from 1975 to 1979; and as Commander in Chief, Military Airlift Command (CINCMAC) from 1979 to 1981.

Early life

Huyser was born in 1924, in Paonia, Colorado, where he graduated from Paonia High School. He later attended Modesto Junior College at Modesto, California, and Ouachita College at Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Military career

He was drafted into the Army in April 1943 and in 1944 entered the aviation cadet program. In September 1944 he graduated from flying school and received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant.

During World War II he flew B-29 Superfortresss in the Southwest Pacific area. In May 1945 he was assigned as a B-29 pilot at Clovis, New Mexico. From August 1946 to May 1947, Huyser was an aircraft commander in the 307th Bombardment Wing, MacDill Field, Florida. He next become an aircraft commander in the 93rd Bombardment Wing at Castle Air Force Base, California, and in 1950 was assigned to the wing staff as chief of training.

During the Korean War Huyser was assigned to the Far East Air Forces Bomber Command as chief, combat operations. During that period he flew combat missions in B-29s with the 98th Bombardment Wing.

He returned to the United States in September 1953 and was assigned as chief, Combat Crew Section, Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force, March Air Force Base, California. In February 1957 he became chief, Training Division, for the 92nd Bombardment Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, and later was named director of operations.

Huyser returned to Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force in January 1959 as assistant chief and then as chief, Combat Operations Branch. In July 1960 he become chief, Operations Plans Division. He entered the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in August 1962. After his graduation in July 1963, he served as chief, Concepts Branch, Operations Plans Division, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

In July 1966 he assumed duties as vice commander of the 454th Bombardment Wing at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, and in December 1966 he assumed command of the 449th Bombardment Wing at Kincheloe Air Force Base, Michigan.

Huyser returned to Headquarters SAC in April 1968 and was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, as director, command control, and in February 1970 he assumed duties as director of operations plans and chief, Single Integrated Operational Plans Division, Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff.

His principal involvement in the Vietnam War was administering the contingency war plans for SAC headquarters. He planned the B-52 missions, weaponeered the target boxes and executed the strikes. He also managed the SAC tanker support for the Southeast Asia area. He also flew B-52 combat missions over Vietnam and tanker support sorties out of Thailand.

In June 1972 Huyser was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, as director of plans. In April 1973 he become deputy chief of staff, plans and operations. He participated in the decision-making processes that resulted in C-130 Hercules resources being assigned to the Military Airlift Command and the designation of the Military Airlift Command as the Department of Defense's third specified command.

Huyser become deputy commander in chief of the U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, in September 1975, where he was one of the major users of Military Airlift Command airlift support.

In January 1979, while still EUCOM deputy, President Jimmy Carter sent Huyser to Iran. Sources disagree on the nature of his mission. According to Carter, Huyser, and American sources, he attempted to stabilize Iran during the turbulent early stages of the Islamic revolution. Charles Kurzman describes him as having been assigned by Carter "to rally Iranian Military commanders and help them prepare for a last-resort coup d'etat," unaware that the massive scale of the uprising left the Iranian military powerless to prevent the Shah's overthrow.[1] According to some supporters of the Shah, his goal was to destabilize the Shah's government(Hostages to Khomeini by Robert Dreyfuss,1981). Shortly afterward, the Shah left Iran in exile and the Islamic Revolution took over the country. In his memoir Mission to Tehran, Huyser called the mission "one that started with desperation and disunity and ended in disaster," but praised the performance of U.S. personnel.[2]

Huyser assumed command of the Military Airlift Command in June 1979, his last posting.

Huyser retired from the Air Force on July 1, 1981 and died September 22, 1997 at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base.[2]


Huyser published a book entitled Mission to Tehran in 1987.[3]

Awards and Medals

Huyser was a command pilot and flew more than 5,000 hours in SAC bombers, nearly 2,000, hours in SAC tankers, about 1,400 hours in single engine jet aircraft and 1,500 hours in B-25, C-54, T-39 and various light aircraft.

His military decorations and awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation emblem, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship ribbon and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.

  • Defense Distinguished Service Medal
  • Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • Air Medal
  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Army Presidential Unit Citation
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
  • Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  • Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation


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