Retired Aug. 31, 1994.
General Robert C. Oaks is commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and commander, Allied Air Forces Central Europe, with headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
General Oaks was born in 1936. He grew up in Provo, Utah, where he graduated from Brigham Young High School in 1954. He entered the first class of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1955 after attending Brigham Young University for a year. Prior to entering the Air Force, he served 18 months in the Utah National Guard. The general earned a bachelor of science degree from the academy in 1959 and a master's degree in business administration from Ohio State University in 1967. He completed the Naval War College in 1974.
Upon graduation from the academy he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He completed flight training at Bartow Air Base, Fla., and Vance Air Force Base, Okla., and received pilot wings in September 1960. The general then attended combat crew training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. In September 1961 he transferred to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., as an F-100 pilot with the 524th Tactical Fighter Squadron. From April 1963 to June 1966 General Oaks was assigned to the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, first at Misawa Air Base, Japan; next, in August 1964, at England Air Force Base, La.; and then, in November 1965, at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. He flew 188 combat missions in F-100s in Southeast Asia.
After completing his master's degree in August 1967, General Oaks was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy as air officer commanding, 23rd Cadet Squadron, and later as the commandant of cadets' executive for honor and ethics. In August 1970 the general became an F-111A flight commander with the 430th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 474th Tactical Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base. There he served as executive officer to the wing commander and as operations officer, 429th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In November 1971 he was assigned as commander of the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
He completed Naval War College in June 1974 and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as chief, Joint Plans and Policy Branch. During the next three years the general served as deputy chief, Global Plans and Policy Division; chief, Joint Policy Division; chief, International Relations Division; chief, Pacific-East Asia Division; chief, Europe-NATO Division; and deputy assistant for National Security Council matters, all within the Directorate of Plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Plans. He became chief, Regular and Reserve General Officer Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, in January 1977. In June 1977 he was assigned as assistant for general officer matters.
From August 1979 to July 1981 General Oaks was assistant for readiness, U.S. Air Forces in Europe headquarters. In January 1981 he moved within the headquarters staff to be the assistant deputy chief of staff, operations. In July 1981 he became commander of the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing, also at Ramstein, and commander of the Kaiserslautern Military Community. He became director of personnel plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower and Personnel, Air Force headquarters, in May 1983. In February 1985 he was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel. The general became commander of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe and deputy commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe for the Southern Area, headquartered in Naples, Italy, in October 1986. In June 1988 General Oaks became commander of Air Training Command with headquarters at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He assumed his present position in June 1990.
The general is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours, including more than 300 combat hours. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with service star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with service star, Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with service star, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to general July 1, 1990, with same date of rank.