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CAPTAIN Robair Ferris MOHRHARDT, U.S.N.
World War Two, Korea and Viet-Nam
Legion of Merit, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses,
2 Bronze Stars with "V's", 25 Air Medals and
the Purple Heart
Born April 18, 1925 in Brooklyn, NY, to Emil and Loretta Ferris Mohrhardt, Robair entered Naval Service as an apprentice seaman at the age of 18 during World War II. He became an aviation cadet and later received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating with the Class of 1949. He entered flight training and received his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1950.
Robair served tours of duty with fighter squadrons in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets; these included VF-112, VF-62, VF-174 and VF-53. A veteran fighter pilot, he flew over 200 combat missions during the Korean and Viet Nam Wars, and was Commanding Officer of VF-53 during the latter. Other assignments included Commander Carrier Division TWO, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air, and Naval Aviation Training Command. Robair also served as: Executive Officer of the USS BON HOMME RICHARD; Director, of College of Command and Staff at The Naval War College; Commander, Fleet Air Western Pacific Detachment at NAS Cubi Point, Republic of Philippines; Force Readiness Officer, staff of Commander Naval Air Force Pacific; and Commanding Officer, Recruit Training Command, San Diego, CA. (NAVCRUITRACOM SAN DIEGO).
Robair logged over 5,000 hours in the air, including 3,500 in jet fighters and 690 carrier landings. During his distinguished career, he flew in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and lead retaliatory strikes. His awards include Legion of Merit, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Bronze Stars with "V's", 25 Air Medals, 2 Commendation Medals with "V's" and the Purple Heart.
In addition to his Naval Academy Bachelor of Science degree, he holds a Master’s degree from George Washington University and is a graduate of Naval Intelligence School, and Naval War College Staff and Command courses.
Following his retirement in 1977, Robair worked in commercial real estate. He enjoyed sports and playing golf and tennis. He was courageous and strong, loved his country that he served, and treasured both family and friends. He lived life to the fullest and made every day count. He will be remembered truly as an officer and a gentleman.
Vietnam War: Gulf of Tonkin Incident
On August 2, 1964, while on a DESOTO patrol in the Tonkin Gulf, the destroyer USS Maddox (DD-731) engaged 3 North Vietnamese Navy P-4 torpedo boats from the 135th Torpedo Squadron. After fighting a running gun and torpedo battle, in which the Maddox fired over 280 5-inch shells, and the torpedo boats expended their 6 torpedoes (all misses) and hundreds of rounds of 14.5mm machinegun fire; the combatants broke contact. As the torpedo boats turned for their North Vietnamese coastline, four F-8 Crusader jet fighter bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) arrived, and immediately attacked the retreating torpedo boats.
Commander James Stockdale and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Richard Hastings attacked torpedo boats T-333 and T-336, while Commander R. F. Mohrhardt and Lieutenant Commander C. E. Southwick attacked torpedo boat T-339. The four pilots reported scoring no hits with their Zuni rockets, but reported hits on all three torpedo boats with their 20mm cannons.