Template:Infobox military person Robert Tralles Herres (December 1, 1932 – July 24, 2008) was the first Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Early life and educationEdit

Herres was born in 1932, in Denver, where he attended East High School. He earned the Eagle Scout award.[1] He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1954. He earned master's degrees in electrical engineering and public administration from the Air Force Institute of Technology and The George Washington University, respectively. He completed Air Command and Staff College in 1965 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1971.

Military careerEdit

After graduating from the Naval Academy, he chose a commission in the Air Force because he saw a better chance at flying duty. After pilot training, Herres' early assignments were in fighter-interceptors, first as a pilot and then as an air electronics maintenance officer. Upon graduation from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1960 he transferred to Europe, where he served as a technical intelligence analyst and, later, as a flying training supervisor.

Upon completion of Air Command and Staff College in 1965, Herres joined the Air University staff to instruct in weapons employment planning until entering training at the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

In August 1967 Herres was assigned to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program at the Space Systems Division of Air Force Systems Command in Los Angeles as an astronaut and chief of the Flight Crew Division. After program cancellation in 1969, he returned to the Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, where he served as deputy chief of staff for plans and requirements. He left Edwards in August 1970 to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Herres became vice commander of the 449th Bombardment Wing at Kincheloe Air Force Base, Michigan, in June 1971 and commander the following year. In April 1973 he was assigned to Southeast Asia for duty as commander of the 310th Strategic Wing, U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield, Thailand. He returned to Kincheloe in September 1973 to resume command of the 449th Bombardment Wing.

From March 1974 to June 1979, Herres served in various aspects of the command and control systems field at Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Electronic Systems Division of Air Force Systems Command and at the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force at The Pentagon.

Herres became commander of Air Force Communications Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois in June 1979. He later assumed command of SAC's 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana in July 1981, and became the director for command, control and communications systems for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 1982. He was assigned to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado as commander in chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defense Command, and commander of the Air Force Space Command in July 1984. He was promoted to full general on August 1, 1984, and became the first commander in chief of the United States Space Command upon activation of the unified command in September 1985.

Herres was selected as the first Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in February 1987.

Awards and decorationsEdit

USAF - Occupational Badge - Space and Missile Space and Missile Badge
United States Air Force Air Traffic Control Badge Air Traffic Controller Badge
United States Air Force Missile Badge Senior Missileman Badge (basic shown)
Defense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Air Force Commendation Medal
Organizational Excellence ribbon.svg Organizational Excellence Award
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Medal
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Air Force Longevity Service ribbon.svg
Air Force Longevity Service Award with two oak leaf clusters
USAF Marksmanship ribbon.svg Small Arms Marksmanship Ribbon


Private sector careerEdit

Herres later served as chairman of USAA Group, a Fortune 200 company. He was USAA's Chairman and CEO from 1993 to 2000 and continued as Chairman until May 10, 2002.

During General Herres' tenure as CEO, USAA's Internet site was launched; the SSA senior bonus was instituted to reward the loyalty of long-term members; and a formalized way for employees to capture member feedback was created so that USAA could improve its services based on what the membership was saying.[3]

Under his leadership USAA enhanced its financial management discipline, project management discipline, and began its focus on a one company image. General Herres left the company financially stronger, more efficient, and positioned for future growth.

General Herres served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America[4] and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout [5] award and the Silver Buffalo award.[6]


External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
New creation
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Adm. David E. Jeremiah
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