Retired May 31, 1986. Died May 8, 1994.
Brigadier General Robert L. Kirtley is assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for strategic and theater nuclear forces, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Washington, D.C.
General Kirtley was born in 1936, in Cumberland, Md., where he graduated from Allegheny High School in 1954. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1958 and completed the Air Force Institute of Technology program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, receiving a master's degree in aerospace mechanics in 1968. General Kirtley was a distinguished graduate of Squadron Officer School in 1963 and the Air War College in 1974, both located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He graduated from the National Defense University, Institute of Higher Defense Studies, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1983.
He entered the U.S. Air Force in June 1958 following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy. After primary and basic pilot training at Bartow Air Force Base, Fla., and Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, he received his wings in September 1959. The general then attended F-86 all-weather interceptor training at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and in December 1960 completed combat crew training at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., and Walker Air Force Base, N.M.
His first operational assignment was as a B-52G copilot and later aircraft commander with the 416th Bombardment Wing at Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y., until 1966 when he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology program. After graduation in March 1968, General Kirtley transferred to the F-4 Replacement Training Unit at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
He then joined the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as chief of standardization and evaluation, and assistant operations officer. While there he logged 175 combat missions and 365 combat hours as a member of the "Nite Owls."
Upon his return to the United States in March 1970, the general served as a program engineer and flew T-38s with the 3246th Test Wing, Armament Development and Test Center, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. He entered the Air War College in 1973 and after graduation moved to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in the Directorate of Operations. One year later he was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development as special assistant for international research and development.
In January 1978 General Kirtley transferred to the 68th Bombardment Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., initially as deputy commander for operations, then in April 1979 he was named vice commander, and in June 1979 took command of the wing.
In February 1981 General Kirtley was named commander of the 7th Bombardment Wing at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, and in May 1982 took command of Strategic Air Command's 47th Air Division, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. He became commander of the 4th Air Division, Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., (home of the Peacekeeper) in July 1984. He assumed his present position in June 1985.
The general is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Combat Readiness Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to brigadier general Oct. 1, 1982, with same date of rank.
General Kirtley's hometown is Auburndale, Fla.