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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Herres

Birthplace: Denver, CO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Tralles

Date of Birth: 01 December 1932

Date of Death: 24 July 2008

Rank: General

Years Served: 1954-1990
Robert Tralles Herres

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1954


Robert Tralles Herres

General, U.S. Air Force

Robert Tralles Herres was born on 1 December 1932 in Denver, CO, where he attended East High School.

Military Career

Herres graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1954 and chose a commission in the U.S. Air Force because he saw a better opportunity for flying duty. After pilot training, his 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 AFB, CA.

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 AFB, 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 AFB, MI, 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 FB, IL, in June 1979. He later assumed Command of SAC's 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB, LA, 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 AFB, CO, 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.

On 1 August 1984, Herres was promoted to the four-star rank of General and became the first Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. 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. He served in that position until his retirement.

He earned Master's Degrees in Electrical Engineering and Public Administration from the Air Force Institute of Technology and George Washington University, respectively. He completed Air Command and Staff College in 1965 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1971.

Herres was a Command Pilot and qualified for the Senior Missile, Air Traffic Controller and Space and Missile badges.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Bronze Star Medal

Meritorious Service Medal

Air Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal


Command Pilot Badge
Senior Missileman Badge
Space and Missile Badge
Air Force Air Traffic Control Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

In Retirement

Herres 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 10 May 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.

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.

Active in community services, he served as Chairman of the United Way in San Antonio, TX; as a national board member for the Boy Scouts of America; and as a community fund raiser for children's health care issues.

Death and Burial

General Robert Tralles Herres died on 24 July 2008, after a two-year battle with brain cancer. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX.

Honoree ID: 736   Created by: MHOH




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