Retired Nov. 1, 1981.
Brigadier General Robert C. Karns is deputy for strategic missiles, space, electronic and armament programs, Air Force Acquisition Logistics Division, Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
General Karns was born in 1929, in Oswego, Kan. He attended Kemper Military School, the University of Arkansas and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., in 1953. Upon graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. General Karns earned a master's degree in systems engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1963. He graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1967 and the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1972.
He attended pilot training courses at Goodfellow and Webb Air Force bases, Texas, and Advanced Fighter Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., from September 1953 to November 1954. Upon completion of gunnery school, the general was assigned to the 722nd Fighter-Day Squadron, Foster Air Force Base, Texas, where he flew F-86s and F-100s.
From December 1955 to August 1959, General Karns was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., as chief of the intramural athletic program and varsity wrestling coach.
After short assignments at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and Osan Air Base, South Korea, General Karns attended the Air Force Institute of Technology from February 1962 to September 1963. He then spent three years with the Air Force Systems Command as a development engineer at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Following graduation from the Army Command and General Staff College in 1967 he transferred to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., for RF-4C combat crew training.
In December 1967 General Karns was assigned to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, flying RF-4C's. During this tour of duty, General Karns flew 182 combat missions; 102 were flown over North Vietnam. He returned to the Air Force Systems Command and was assigned to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Organization in Los Angeles from October 1968 to July 1971.
From August 1971 to June 1972, General Karns attended the National War College and upon graduation was assigned to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. He served successively as deputy commander for operations, 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Royal Air Force Station Alconbury, England, and as vice commander of the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Zweibrucken Air Base, Germany.
In July 1975 General Karns assumed duties as director of inspection for Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Kapaun Barracks, Germany, and served in that capacity until June 1976 when he became commander of the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Zweibrucken Air Base. In July 1978 he was assigned as vice commander, U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The general became commandant of the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in September 1979 and assumed his present duties in August 1980.
General Karns is a command pilot with more than 3,800 flying hours, including 272 combat hours. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to brigadier general June 1, 1978, with date of rank May 30, 1978.