Retired Oct. 1, 1994.
Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Robert A. Buethe Jr. is director, medical programs and resources, Office of the Surgeon General, Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.
General Buethe was born in Chicago in 1939, and graduated from Glenbard Township High School, Glen Ellyn, Ill., in 1956. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Beloit College in 1960 and a doctor of medicine degree from Northwestern University Medical School in 1964. He performed his internship and residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the Evanston Hospital Association, with a portion of his obstetrical training at the Cook County Hospital, Chicago.
He entered the Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in July 1969 as chief of obstetrics and gynecology services at the USAF Hospital there. He held this position for four years, during which, in addition to his gynecologic workload, he delivered 978 babies to military families. General Buethe transferred to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in June 1973 as chief of the Clinical Medicine Division, Office of the Surgeon. In this capacity he monitored and assisted with the practice of clinical medicine at the command's 29 medical facilities. He also frequently augmented SAC's 2nd and 15th Air forces inspector general teams as a medical inspector and team chief.
In November 1974 he assumed command of the USAF Hospital, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y. At age 35 he was the youngest hospital commander in SAC. In July 1976 he became hospital commander at Pease Air Force Base, N.H. In this position he actively coordinated medical care for Air Force personnel and dependents, as well as personnel and dependents of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station, and numerous Coast Guard stations and ships serving the New England coast.
He assumed command of the Barksdale Air Force Base Hospital in July 1978. In addition to his administrative duties as a major unit commander and surgeon to the wing commander, he provided patient care in obstetrics and gynecology, and flight medicine, carrying a full clinical load. Additionally, he was medical adviser to the commander of SAC's 8th Air Force, also at Barksdale.
In July 1980 he was assigned to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, as deputy command surgeon, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe. He assisted the command surgeon in monitoring the Air Force's European health care and air evacuation systems. In this position he worked closely with medical personnel of the host nation and other NATO allies. He was instrumental in writing the multinational aircrew medical standards for NATO E-3A crews. In August 1981 the general organized and commanded the Air Force's largest medical readiness exercise, Medical Red Flag-Munich.
He was transferred to the Office of the Surgeon General as deputy director of medical plans and resources in July 1983, and, in August 1985, became director. In that position he was responsible for the development of medical service plans and programs in the acquisition and allocation of resources, working through the directorate's five major divisions. The general was a member of the Air Staff Board that reviewed and approved all Air Force programs and projects, as well as the Program Objective Memorandum, prior to being presented to the Air Force Council. He also was appointed chairman of the Defense Medical Standardization Board. In January 1987 the general became command surgeon, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. He assumed his present position in September 1991.
The general's military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal.
Throughout his career, General Buethe has supported teaching, particularly at the USAF School of Health Care Sciences, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He lectured a variety of classes, seminars and conferences on such subjects as medical readiness, medical logistics, and obstetrics and gynecology. He also lectured on hospital command and management, medical productivity, quality assurance, the planning-programming-budgeting system, medical and line relationships, and national policy as it affects the Air Force Medical Service. He was appointed distinguished visiting lecturer in the Air Force's School of Health Care Sciences in March 1983.
The general is a licensed civil pilot. He entered the primary course in aviation medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, in 1970 and earned his flight surgeon's wings in May 1978. He continues to practice medicine as a chief flight surgeon, obstetrician and gynecologist.
He was promoted to major general May 16, 1991, with same date of rank.