Tributes & Stories

 

Obituary (HI): Robert John Rehwaldt '51

Posted on 10/02/2018

Robert "Bob" J. Rehwaldt  (May 29, 1927 -- September 18, 2018)

Colonel Bob Rehwaldt, USAF (Ret) passed away on September 18, 2018, in Kailua, Hawaii on the island of Oahu.  A Christian memorial service will be held on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at 2 PM at Pullman's Emmanuel Baptist Church.  Internment with full Military Honors will be held on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018 at 11:15 AM at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake, Washington.  A viewing will be held on Friday & Saturday from 4-6 PM each day at Kimball Funeral Home. Bob was born on May 29, 1927 in Hartford, Wisconsin. Upon graduation from Hartford High School in June 1945, he enlisted and reported to Parris Island, South Carolina for Marine Corps recruit training.  After serving with the Second Marine Air Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina, Private First Class Rehwaldt was transferred to the Naval Academy Prep School at Bainbridge, Maryland and later qualified for a Fleet Appointment to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.  Graduating with Class of 1951 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force and assigned to pilot training. Bob's pilot training was conducted at Columbus, Mississippi and Lubbock, Texas and led to his receipt of his Silver Wings and an assignment to B-29 transition at Randolph AFB, San Antonio, Texas in August 1952.  Training missions at Randolph Field and Forbes AFB, Kansas qualified him as an Eagle Flight crew member and an assignment to the 98 th Bomb Wing at Yokota AFB, Japan for bombing missions over North Korea.  Prior to the end of the Korean "conflict" Bob flew 18 sorties and was awarded his first Air Medal. Upon returning to the US, he was assigned to Strategic Air Command's (SAC) 97 th Bomb Wing at El Paso, Texas to fly the B-50 Superfortress.  He flew on a Select Bomb Crew for three years until the Wing transitioned to the B-47 Stratojet.  He then flew two additional years of world wide nuclear deterrent missions during turbulent years of the Lebanon and Suez Crisis's.  During his tour at Biggs Field he met and married the former Miriam Roark, of Camden, Alabama, a graduate of Judson College in Marion Alabama. In 1968, Colonel Rehwaldt volunteered for flight duty in Vietnam and was assigned to the 374 th Tactical Air Wing at Naha AFB, Okinawa for air logistic support missions in South Vietnam.  After twelve months of C-130 airlift missions he became commander of the 21 st TAS/E-flight for missions throughout Southeast Asia.  Bob was promoted to the rank of Colonel in May 1971 and then assisted in the deactivation of the 374 th TAW. Upon return to the states he was selected to serve as a USAF Research Associate at the University of Texas as an invited Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Bob's next assignment took him back to the cockpit as Director of Operations for MAC's 375 th Aeromedical Airlift Wing at Scott AFB, Illinois.  While in this assignment he participated in Operation Homecoming, which provided DC-9 air support for returning POWs. In 1973, Bob volunteered for duty with AFROTC and was assigned as the Professor of Aerospace Studies at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. In 1978, Bob retired from the Air Force and was later selected to serve as WSU's Director of Safety.  He served in that capacity in charge of Fire, Police, Parking, Safety and Environmental Health activities until his retirement in May of 1992. Since his retirement, Bob has continued his support of community service groups acting as commander of the Inter-state Civil Air Patrol squadron, Field Representative for the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship and Coordinator of the Pullman Police Department Professional Reserve Corps.  He was also a member of the Pullman Kiwanis club, the American Legion, and served as a volunteer Chaplain at the Pullman Memorial Hospital. Colonel Rehwaldt's honors and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross (for action over enemy territory),  Air Medal with 3 Oak leaf, Air Force Commendation Medal with one Oak leaf, Air Force Outstanding unit award  with six Oak leaf, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four Battle Stars, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Air Force Expeditionary Medal (Korea).

Bob is survived by his wife Miriam, five sons, Eric, Frank, David, Daniel and Christopher (Retired Major, USMC), one daughter Laura, 20 grandchildren and 7 great grand children.  Bob and Miriam's eldest son, Robert J. Rehwaldt II (Retired Lt Colonel, USAF) preceded Bob. Bob is also survived by his sisters, Romayne Mertens, of San Antonio, Texas and Mary Rehwaldt of San Antonio,Texas. Memorial Gifts can be forwarded to the Pullman Hospital Chapel fund.

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