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Remembering Mr. Robert “Bob” Wyckoff: Titan of Missileer History and Heritage

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Anthony Santino
  • 576th Flight Test Squadron

Mr. Robert “Bob” Wyckoff passed away in early December at the age of 83, and the men and women of the Twentieth Air Force will honor his life and legacy for generations to come.

Bob was best known for his poem, “Missileer,” which serves as an introduction and inspiration for those the profession of Air Force missile operations.  

Young lieutenants taking the first steps of their career are hailed by Bob’s reflections from a “thankless vigil on the brink of man-made hell.” Signed copies of the poem hang throughout our command offices and underground missile launch control centers – a reminder to all missileers of their “common bond” as well as their grim but important responsibility.  

Bob wrote that poem in 1973 as a captain assigned to the 564th Strategic Missile Squadron in Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. He was later assigned to the 576th Flight Test Squadron at then-Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and he was a founding member of the TOP HAND professional development program

In addition to “Missileer,” Bob authored many other poems in reflection of his lifelong bond to the unique work of a missile officer. He was later commissioned to write special works as lasting tributes to missile maintainers and instructors. In total, Bob had more than a hundred published pieces to his name.

After his military career, he retired near Lompoc, California, which neighbors Vandenberg SFB.  There, he remained an active member of the Twentieth Air Force community. A proud husband and father, he was also prolific missileer and served as a long-time Honorary Commander to the 381st Training Group and 532d Training Squadron. He was even named a “Man of the Year” within the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce. 

The men and women of Twentieth Air Force are grateful to Mr. Bob Wyckoff for his timeless contributions to the missile community. We extend our deepest condolences to Mrs. Eileen Wyckoff and the Wyckoff family. Though the chapter of Bob’s life closes, his legacy will live on forever. 

“Bob Wyckoff remained an Air Force missileer long after he hung up his uniform,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, commander of Twentieth Air Force. “For decades, he was our mentor, friend, and advocate, and his poetry inspired new Airmen in the ICBM force while bringing voice to the triumphs and challenges of those already serving. I was humbled when Bob honored my request to pen a poem about ICBM maintainers. Then, as always, he was gracious and a true gentleman. We will miss him dearly.”