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Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert J. Bauer

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Fort Walton Beach, FL | The Destin Log

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Obituary

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert J. Bauer passed away on November 6, 2022. His wife of 63 years, Joan, was at his side.

Bob was born in Seattle, Washington on June 9, 1933. He was working for Boeing Airplane Company building B-52 wings when he enlisted in the United States Air Force in January 1953. He volunteered for the Aviation Cadet Program and upon graduation was promoted to Second Lieutenant and pinned on his silver pilot wings. His first assignment was with the Fourth Fighter Day Wing 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Chitose AB, Japan, flying the F-86 Sabre defending Northern Japan, Korea and The Republic of Formosa. After an assignment to Dover AFB Delaware, he was assigned to Wheelus Air Base Libya, flying the F-100 Super Sabre. His next assignment was to transition from being the steely eyed combat fighter pilot to flying the four engine C-135 Stratolifter at Travis AFB CA. In 1965 the Military Airlift Command received their first C-141A, an aircraft which later proved to be a mainstay of the long-range airlift during the Vietnam conflict. Bob was one of seven initial cadre personnel in the first operational C-141A squadron and was made Chief Standardization and Evaluation Pilot for the 60th Military Airlift Wing Travis AFB CA, the largest C-141A Wing in the United States Air Force. He was selected to command the first C-141A to tour the major countries of South America, and accomplished the longest non-stop flight in the history of the Military Airlift Command from Kadena AB, Okinawa to Washington, D.C. He was selected to participate in Operation Homecoming and was the Aircraft Commander of the last C-141A to land in Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi North Vietnam flying out the last group of known Prisoners of War on March 29, 1973. During his military career, Bob accumulated more than 12,000 flying hours, was awarded four separate decorations for saving crippled aircraft, participated in airlift operations during the Cuban Missile crisis and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, all while having only a high school diploma. After his retirement from the Air Force, Bob was selected as DC-8 Captain for Japan Airlines and moved his family to Tachikawa, Japan, logging an additional 4,000 hours to his total flying time.

Returning to the US in 1976, Bob settled his family in Fort Walton Beach where he owned and operated Gemini Truck Tops from 1978 to 1999. Gemini quickly became the go-to place for truck accessories and Bob made sure every customer was treated like family. While he grew to appreciate this area, Bob’s heart was happiest amongst the majestic mountains, big trees, and glaciers of what he called God’s Country – the Pacific Northwest. At every opportunity, he would take his young family on epic adventures. From California they traveled to National Parks plus scores of National Monuments, Memorials and all the quirky roadside attractions in between. From Japan, they explored more countries and continents. Bob’s interest in the world was infectious and his family is forever grateful for the unforgettable experiences born of his curiosity and wanderlust. Bob was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church for over 40 years, served on the school board, was a member of the Parish Council, and participated in many of the school’s fund-raising projects. Bob was a self-made man with more than his fair share of horse sense (he’d like to say) – a pilot, entrepreneur, builder, gardener, mechanic, inventor, experimenter, teacher and most memorably, a beloved husband, father and grandfather. From humble beginnings to creating a legacy, Bob has flown West but he will never leave our hearts.

Bob is survived by his wife, Joan, his daughters Theresa Bauer and Elizabeth McDonald (Charles), son Robert (Pascale) and granddaughters Rachel McDonald and Sara Bauer. He is preceded in death by his parents Franz and Madelone.

A funeral mass will be held Thursday, November 17 at 11:00am at St. Mary Catholic Church with Father John Licari of St. John the Evangelist officiating. Visitation will be at 10:30am. Flowers may be sent to Emerald Coast Funeral Home and the family kindly requests that any memorial contributions be made to St. Mary School.

Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com

Posted online on November 11, 2022

Published in Northwest Florida Daily News