Died April 13, 1994.
Pearl Harvey Robey was born in Casey, Ill., in 1906. He graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 1924 at Indianapolis, Ind., and until June 1925 he attended Butler University. In July 1925 he received a competitive Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy and graduated 239 in his class of 299 on June 13, 1929.
Second Lieutenant Robey won his pilot's wings at Kelly Field in October 1930 and was transferred to the Air Corps in December of that year. His first assignment, that of bombardment instructor at the flying school at Kelly Field, was prophetic in what author Wesley Price later termed as the "birth of a miracle". The sequel to this assignment was to pay off in later years during the life struggle of the nation.
During 1931 he entered on his first overseas tour as engineering officer of the 72nd Bombardment Squadron in Hawaii. Upon returning to the United States in February 1933, he turned his interest to attack aviation as assistant engineering officer, 8th Attack Squadron of the Third Attack Group at Fort Crockett, Texas. This was under the tutelage of Colonel Horace M. Hickam, who, had he lived, would have been one of the brightest stars in Air Force history. After completing the Chemical Warfare School in 1933, Lieutenant Robey continued the application of his engineering interests until 1935 when he was competitively selected for a duty assignment in the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field, Ohio. Here he was able to embark on programs that later helped shape our air supremacy for victory in World War II.
Serving successively as test engineer, power plant project officer (stopping only for the short period of attendance at the Air Corps Tactical School) and later as chief, Supercharger and Ignition Unit, Lieutenant Robey became a member of that small but fiercely dedicated group who believed that the core of Air Force policy was long-range strategic bombing. The instruments of this policy and the gamble for the future was the nebulous mass of paper and materiel which became the B-17 and which later evolved into the B-29. In fact, both history and an early "Robeyism" were recorded in late 1939 when First Lieutenant Robey equipped the 15th B-l7 off the assembly line with a hand-made turbo-supercharger, flew it at a record-breaking 311 miles per hour at 25,000 feet with the laconic statement that "She runs like a deer and climbs like a mountain goat!". When the news hit Washington, the supercharger became standard equipment and the B-17 became a real strategic weapon. Immediately after, Captain Robey, with Captain Irvine, established one international and three national altitude records with a YB-17A airplane and earned a personal commendation from General "Hap" Arnold.
By 1941, Major Robey became known throughout the Army Air Forces as an engineer who, by sheer persistence and determination, found out and overcame the majority of "bugs" within engines, structures and accessories which plagued the developmental programs at the onset of the war. By direction of the president, he was awarded the Legion of Merit because his "superior leadership and outstanding attainments sustained the development and final feasibility of the turbo-supercharger, an aggregate accomplishment which served as a distinctly individual and substantial contribution to the successful conclusion of the war." During 1943, these accomplishments earned him the subsequent assignment to India as assistant chief of the 20th Bomber Command Technical Staff where his services through June 1944 again earned him the Legion of Merit for "modification, maintenance and supply of B-29 aircraft" of that command.
Upon completion of his service in the CBI theater, he was returned to Wright Field, Ohio, where he was named chief of the Equipment Laboratory in October 1945. The sum total of his work and foresight in advancing the reality of strategic bombardment, together with its profound effect on the course of the war earned Colonel Robey the plaudits of author Wesley Price in his story "Birth Of A Miracle" written as a series for the Saturday Evening Post during August and September 1945.
During most of 1946, he served as chief of the Propulsion and Accessories Subdivision, until August when he was selected to attend the Air War College at Maxwell Field, Ala. He remained there after graduation as chief of the Air University's Research Division until he was reassigned to the Air Materiel Command in April 1940 to head the Inspection Section, which later was redesignated as the Quality Control Division.
In January 1950, Colonel Robey was called to Washington as special assistant to the UCS/Development (Guided Missiles) at Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Then, having earned his first star as brigadier general during December 1950, General Robey became assistant for production in the Directorate of Guided Missiles, Office of the Secretary of Defense in May 1951. From there he was appointed as chief, Military Air Advisory Group, London, England, during the period August 1953 to July 1954 when he was selected for his logistical experience and ability to take command of the Central Air Materiel Area in Chateauroux, France, the principal organization of the Air Materiel Forces, European Area. From there he assumed command of the Ogden Air Materiel Area, Hill Air Force Base Utah, where he soon received his second star as major general, U.S. Air Force. General Robey is a command pilot and is current in most conventional aircraft.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Department of Defense Identification Badge
Air Force Longevity Service Award