Retired April 30, 1972.
Brigadier General Robert J. Holbury is commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Reconnaissance Center, Tactical Air Command, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. He is responsible for the development, coordination, validating and testing of tactical air reconnaissance requirements, concepts, doctrine, tactics and procedures.
General Holbury was born in Avon Lake, Ohio, in 1920. He graduated from Avon High School, Avon, Ohio, in 1938, and worked as a special equipment engineer for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company in Detroit before entering military service in March 1942. He took his primary, basic and advanced flying training at the West Coast Training Center and was commissioned a second lieutenant at Marfa Field, Texas, in February 1943.
During World War II, he served as a P-38 Lightning pilot and P-51 Mustang pilot and flew 76 combat missions for a total of 142 combat hours. After the war he served until February 1954 with the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Langley Field, Va.; U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Technology; and at the Pentagon as squadron commander, operations staff officer, and staff planning officer.
In February 1954 he was assigned as chief of the Bombardment Reconnaissance Transportation Branch in the Directorate of Operations and Training for Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany. In August 1955 he was named chief of the Reconnaissance Branch in the same directorate.
From August 1956 to February 1957, General Holbury was a student at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Defense College at Paris, France. He then was transferred to Forbes Air Force Base, Kan., as deputy commander for operations of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. In August 1959 he was assigned as chief of the Reconnaissance Branch of the Operations Plans Division, Directorate of Operations, at Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. During this time he attended the University of Omaha and graduated in 1961.
He was assigned as air commander, Detachment 1, of the 1129th U.S. Air Force Special Activities Squadron at Las Vegas, Nev., in December 1961. He became commander of the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Laon, France, in July 1966, and as commander went with the wing to Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford, England, in September 1966.
General Holbury attended RF-4 Phantom combat crew training at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, in September 1967 before assuming command of the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in December 1967. He assumed duties as director of combat operations for Seventh Air Force at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, in May 1968. While in Vietnam he flew 11 different types of aircraft on 149 combat missions for a total of 365 flying hours.
In July 1969 General Holbury assumed command of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Reconnaissance Center, (Tactical Air Command), at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
He is a command pilot. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 20 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, and French Croix de Guerre with silver star.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of brigadier general effective May 1, 1968, with date of rank May 1, 1968.