Obituary: Bob Huntley

Obituary: Bob HuntleyFormer Ridgecrest resident Bob Huntley passed away on Feb. 12, 2014, in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He had been in declining health for the past year following a stroke in 2012.

A memorial service will be held at the Kirtland Air Force Base Chapel in Albuquerque, N.M. The memorial service will be held Monday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m.

Bob was born on Aug. 5, 1930, in St. Louis, Mo., to Roland and Fern Dunbar Huntley of Maine. After a year in St. Louis, the family returned to Maine where Bob grew up.

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on March 8, 1948. He flew 100 Wild Weasel missions over North Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, including 58 missions to Hanoi during the “hottest” part of the Vietnam War. He never lost either a wingman or a strike aircraft while leading the Weasel flights. During his combat tour, he was the squadron’s ranking Wild Weasel pilot and developed innovative Shrike missile delivery tactics, which greatly reduced the loss rate of F-105 aircraft over North Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force on Oct. 31, 1969, with the rank of major. He received two Silver Stars, six Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals and numerous lesser awards and campaign ribbons during his career.

Bob came to Ridgecrest in 1980 to work at PRC Ridgecrest Engineering Co. In 1983 he began his career at the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake in the SideARM Project Office. He completed the Technical Manager’s Certificate Program in 1990. He retired from the base in November 1999 as SideARM program manager and moved to Albuquerque in 2004. He had been an avid golfer at China Lake Golf Club.

Bob received his third Silver Star in August 2008 from then-Congresswoman Heather Wilson for a 1967 mission he flew over North Vietnam in which he put himself in harm’s way to protect other airmen.

Bob is survived by his wife, Helen, of Albuquerque. They had celebrated their 34th anniversary on Feb. 2. He is also survived by two sons, Robert in Houston, Texas, and Richard in Pennsylvania; a daughter, Vicki Ireland in Houston; and two grandsons, Ryan Ireland and Drew Ireland.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association.

Submitted by the family of Bob Huntley

Story First Published: 2014-02-19