Monday, May 15, 2006

Robert Goebel 1923-2011

Robert J. Goebel joined the Army Air Corps and was accepted as an Aviation Cadet in 1942. Preflight Training at the Aviation Cadet Center in San Antonio, Texas. Primary Flight School at Corsicana, Texas in the Fairchild PT-19. Basic Flight Training at Majors Field near Greenville,Texas in the Vultee BT-13 and Advanced Flight Training at Moore Field near McAllen, Texas in the North American AT-6.
He received his Pilot's Wings and a commission of 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces in May 1943. 2nd Lt. Goebel was assigned to fly Bell P-39 Airacobras and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks in defense of the Panama Canal. In December 1943, Robert Goebel was rotated home to the USA ZI. He was soon assigned as a Replacement Pilot to the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations. He shipped out to North Africa and arrived at Oran, Algeria. He was assigned to the Supermarine Spitfire equipped 31st Fighter Group of the 12th Air Force and was checked out in the Spitfire at Telergma. As he joined the 31st FG at Castel Voltumo, Italy on April 1, 1944, the Group had started a transition to the North American P-51B Mustang and its main mission changed from Close Support of front-line troops to Fighter Escort for the Heavy Bombers of the 15th Air Force.
Lt. Goebel was assigned to the 308th Fighter Squadron. Eventually, the 31st FG were equipped with the P-51D-model Mustangs. Captain Goebel flew 61 combat missions from the 31st FG's base at San Severo, Italy including one of the FRANTIC Russian Shuttle missions. He led the 308th FS into combat seven times and the entire 31st FG into battle twice. Captain Goebel, still only 21 years old, rotated home to the USA ZI as a highly decorated fighter ace.
Captain Goebel resigned his commission in 1946 to attend the University of Wisconsin where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics in 1948. He served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard as Commander of the 126th Fighter Squadron until he returned to active duty with the U. S. Air Force in 1950. Goebel served in various assignments in the Atomic Energy and Space Programs. Lt. Colonel Goebel retired from service in 1966 to Torrance, California.