#VeteranOfTheDay: Army Air Forces Veteran Robert B. Hastie


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First Lieutenant Robert B. Hastie was born in Lead, South Dakota Apr. 24, 1924 and moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he graduated from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet. During WWII, he served as a B-17 pilot in the 95th Bomb Group 334th Squadron flying 35 missions over occupied Europe. He then transitioned into Mosquitos and flew reconnaissance with the 25th Bomb Group 654th Squadron.

He returned to the U.S. in 1945 on the Queen Mary.

After service in WWII, Hastie went to Northwestern University on the GI Bill and graduated with a degree in engineering and was in the Pi Tau Sigma International Mechanical Engineering Honor Society. He married the former Bette Lu Haake, also of Kenosha Wisconsin who was a registered nurse during the war. They moved to Dallas, Texas where he worked as a pipeline engineer for Atlantic Pipeline Co.

In 1955 he flew to London with his wife and two children on a Stratocruiser to help rebuild Europe with the Joint Construction Agency. They returned to Texas where they had a third child. He continued in pipeline engineering with the Atlantic Pipeline compant as it merged and combined eventually becoming ARCO. His proudest work and most technically challenging position was designing and becoming Project Manager for the Trans Alaska Pipeline. He made many trips to Alaska to prepare and build the pipeline and insure it was operational, and became a Vice President of ARCO Transportation in Los Angles CA area, where he retired in 1985 and still resides.

In retirement, he flew light aircraft with friends on trips around the country and went sailing in Southern California and charters around the world.

Robert went to Horham, England, in 2005 to take one last flight over the home of the 95th BG(H) during the European Air Offensive of WWII. Friends in Horham provided flights for the air crews, including letting Robert take the controls of the aircraft for the symbolic flight.

Robert’s decorations include: Pilot Wings, European-Africa-ME Campaign Medal (with 5 Bronze Stars), Air Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters), AAF Presidential Unit Citation (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Russian Commemorative Medal (The 50th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War) 1994, Polish Uprising Cross 2004, Polish Merit for Warsaw 2004, and the French Knight of the Legion of Honor 2014. He resides with his wife in Huntington Beach, CA.

Military Service Details: USAAF WWII service 19 Nov 42 to 1 Nov 45; 30 Jan 1943 basic training at George Field, Illinois; 1 Mar 43 flight training; 20 Feb 44 Student Officer B-17s; 9 Apr 44 advanced crew training Rapid City, South Dakota Air Base Class of 44B RTU; 4 Jul 44 transferred overseas ETO, 8th AF [Kearney NB-Bangor, Maine-Gandor-Prestwick Scotland on 9 July 1944]; 11 Jul 44 95th BG(H) 334th Sqdn Horham, UK, 13th Combat Wing/ 3rd Air Division/ 8th AF (flew 35 combat missions over occupied Europe in B-17Gs thru 6 Jan 1945); 4 Feb 44 25th BG 654th Sqdn Watton UK (flew reconnaissance missions in B-26s and Mosquito MK IIIs); Jun 45/ 2 Aug 1945 returned to USA on Queen Mary; Reserve Status Camp McCoy 1 Nov 45 to Apr 53; honorably discharged

Campaigns: Air Offensive Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace

Operations: Frantic; Market Garden; Warsaw Uprising; Battle of the Bulge

 

Author

Melissa Heintz

– Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.