Retired Aug. 1, 1975.
Lieutenant General Robert A. Patterson is the surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force.
General Patterson was born in Palestine, Ill. After completing premedical studies at the University of Illinois in 1935, he graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Ky., in 1939 with a doctor of medicine degree.
He was called from residency training to active military duty in October 1940 with the Michigan National Guard as flight surgeon of the 107th Observation Squadron. In September 1943, he went to the European Theater of Operations with the 107th squadron and in November 1943, became assistant wing surgeon, 100th Fighter Wing, in the European Theater.
In December 1944, General Patterson returned to the United States and from March 1945 until September of that year he served as a surgeon in the 1077th Army Air Forces Base Unit, Bowman Field, Ky. His next assignment was in Washington, D.C., as assistant chief, Aviation Medicine Branch, Office of the Air Surgeon, Headquarters Army Air Forces. He received his regular commission in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in July 1946. Three years later he transferred to the U.S. Air Force Medical Service and became chief, Aircrew Standards Branch, Office of the Air Force Surgeon General in Washington.
General Patterson was assigned as chief, Professional Services Division, Office of the Surgeon, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in October 1951. In January 1954, he went to Madrid, Spain, and served as surgeon of the Spain Air Materiel Area. Later he became the first commander of the 7600th U.S. Air Force Hospital in Madrid. He was transferred in January 1957 to Headquarters Eastern Air Defense Force, Stewart Air Force Base, N.Y., as staff surgeon.
In August 1959, he became the first commander of the 1st Medical Service Wing, Tachikawa Air Base, Japan, and moved with the wing to Clark Air Base, the Philippines, in June 1962. As a mobile tactical medical wing, it experienced extensive duty in Southeast Asia and was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in June 1963. The following month he was assigned as deputy director of plans and hospitalization, Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and in January 1965, became the director.
In July 1968, General Patterson was assigned as the surgeon, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany, and in June 1971 he was assigned as surgeon, Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
General Patterson became surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 1, 1972.
He is certified in Aviation Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Aerospace Medical Association, and a member of the American Medical Association and the Association of Military Surgeons.
As one of a small group of Air Force physician-pilots, he has had extensive experience with aerospace medical support. While working on aircrew problems in the Air Defense Command, he became a qualified F-102 aircraft pilot and in July 1957 was awarded the wings of a command pilot. He received the aeronautical rating of chief flight surgeon in August 1956. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
He was promoted to the grade of lieutenant general effective Aug. 1, 1972, with date of rank Aug. 1, 1972.