Retired Aug. 1, 1970. Died Feb. 6, 2004.
Major General Robert Wiygul Burns is chief of staff, Aerospace Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colo.
General Burns was born in Nettleton, Miss., in 1916. He graduated from high school in Ecru, Miss., in 1933, and from Mississippi State Teachers College, in 1938, with a bachelor of science degree. He enlisted in the Army in 1939 as an aviation cadet and received his pilot wings and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Corps in November 1939 at Kelly Field, Texas.
He went to the Panama Canal Zone in December 1939 and was assigned to the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron. In February 1942 he assumed command of Headquarters Squadron, 6th Bombardment Group. He became commander of the 74th Bombardment Squadron in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in June 1942.
He returned to the United States in November 1942 and was assigned as deputy commander of the 351st Bombardment Group at Geiger Field, Wash. In April 1943 he went with the 351st Group to England as part of the Eighth Air Force, and in September 1944 he became group commander. During his tour of duty with the 351st Bombardment Group he flew 24 combat missions in the B-17 Flying Fortress.
General Burns returned to the United States in May 1945 and later assumed command of the 63rd Army Air Forces Base Unit, Mitchel Field, N.Y. In April 1946 he was assigned as senior instructor for the 118th Fighter Group, Tennessee Air National Guard, in Nashville, Tenn.
In January 1949 he entered the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va. Following graduation, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force where he was assigned to the Office of Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and later Deputy Chief of Staff for Development.
In June 1952 he was selected for assignment to the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in Greece where he served as deputy and then chief of the Air Force Section.
General Burns returned to the United States in December 1954 and became deputy for operations, 25th Air Division (Defense), McChord Air Force Base, Wash. He graduated from the National War College in June 1958 and became director of operations, Headquarters Air Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colo., and subsequently served as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations. He was assigned as commander of the 73rd Air Division (Air Defense Command), Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in July 1962.
In May 1965 General Burns became chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Pakistan. He obtained a master of arts degree in international affairs from The George Washington University in February 1966.
General Burns was assigned as commander, Nineteenth Air Force (Tactical Air Command) at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., in April 1967, and assumed duties as commander of the Fourth Air Force (Air Defense Command) at Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., in August 1968. He returned to Headquarters Aerospace Defense Command as chief of staff in August 1969.
His military decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak cluster, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army-Commendation Medal and the French Croix de Guerre with palm.