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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Willard

Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Bell, CA
Middle Name: Frederick

Date of Birth: 05 December 1950

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1973-2012
Robert Frederick Willard

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1973

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)
•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)


Robert F. Willard

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Robert F. Willard was born on 5 December 1950 in Los Angeles, CA. In 1969, he graduated from East Longmeadow High School, East Longmeadow, MA. He is a 1973 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He possesses a Master's degree in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University and is an MIT Seminar XXI alumnus.

An F-14 Naval Aviator, Willard served consecutively in Fighter Squadron 24 (VF-24), Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124), and Fighter Squadron 2 (VF-2) at NAS Miramar, deploying aboard USS Constellation (CV-64), USS Ranger (CV-61), and USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). He then joined Navy Fighter Weapons School Top Gun as Operations Officer and Executive Officer, as well as serving as aerial coordinator for the Paramount film Top Gun.

In 1987, Willard reported to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), where he served as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of the Screaming Eagles, embarked in USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). He subsequently attended Navy Nuclear Power Training before rejoining Carl Vinson as Executive Officer. Willard then commanded the flagships USS Tripoli (LPH-10) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in various operations including Somalia and the Persian Gulf.

As a flag officer, Willard has served on the Joint Staff as Deputy Director for Operations (Current Readiness and Capabilities); Commander, Carrier Group Five embarked in USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63); Deputy and Chief of Staff, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, HI; Commander, Seventh Fleet, embarked in USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) in Yokosuka, Japan; and Director for Force Structure, Resources and Assessment (DJ8) on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On 18 March 2005, Willard was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral and became the 34th Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Later, he was the Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet from 8 May 2007 until 25 September 2009 when he was relieved by Admiral Patrick M. Walsh. As the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, he was responsible for the world's largest fleet command, encompassing 100,000,000 square miles and more than 170 ships and submarines, 1,300 aircraft, and 122,000 Sailors, Reservists and civilians. From 19 October 2009 to 9 March 2012, Willard was Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM).

On 9 March 2012, Admiral Willard retired from the Navy after 39 years of service.

Popular Culture

Willard appeared in, and was a consultant for, the 1986 film Top Gun. He pilots the Mig-28 that receives "the bird" from Goose and Maverick. His call sign is "Rat," and his podcast is called the Rat-Pac Report.

In March 2010, Willard testified before the House Armed Services Committee and kept a straight face while Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson expressed his concern that the island of Guam might "capsize" and "tip over" if too many people were on one side of the island, responding "We don't anticipate that."

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3 Awards)

Legion of Merit (4 Awards)

Meritorious Service Medal (3 Awards)

Navy Commendation Medal with (4 Awards)

Navy Achievement Medal

Joint Meritorious Unit Award

Navy Unit Commendation

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 Bronze Service Star

Navy "E" Ribbon w/ 3 Battle E Devices

National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars

Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star

Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Korea Defense Service Medal

Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1 Silver and 1 Bronze Service Star

Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with 3 Bronze Service Stars

Navy Expert Rifleman Medal

Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal


Naval Aviator Insignia


He was the 1982 Pacific Fleet Tailhooker of the Year.

In Retirement

On 9 May 2012, Willard was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, succeeding retired Navy admiral James O. Ellis, Jr.

Honoree ID: 681   Created by: MHOH




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