Local Air Force general dies, leaves behind legacy in The Market Common

General Robert Reed
General Robert Reed The City of Myrtle Beach

Focusing his time and energy on preserving the history of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, General Robert H. Reed was key in making The Market Common what it is today. On Dec. 24 he passed away in his Myrtle Beach home at the age of 88.

Born Oct. 10, 1929 in Elkhorn City, Ky., Reed was a heavily decorated Air Force general who spent time working in Belgium, the United Nations and Washington D.C., eventually retiring in Myrtle Beach.

“He was a very kind person, he was very considerate and he was not someone that was untouchable,” Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said. “You could approach him any time with any questions about what was going on. If he didn’t know the answer he would find the answer out for you.”

After he retired, Reed took on the task of preserving the history of the base after it closed in 1993. As a member of the Myrtle Beach Air Base Redevelopment Authority, Reed worked to place plaques around the base and name streets after distinguished military personnel.

“He was just very very concerned and interested in keeping the heritage of the base going,” retired Air Force pilot Joe Barton said. “He wanted everybody to know he was a very dedicated Air Force individual. Anytime something would go on out at the base I would usually end up seeing the general and it was nice to talk to him and good to see him everyday.”

Reed was predeceased by his seven brothers and sisters and leaves behind his wife Joan Reed, one son, Robert H. Reed Jr., three daughters, Elizabeth Robinson, Barbara Munden and Suzanne Schneider and nine grandchildren.

His time in uniform

Logging 6,100 flying hours, Reed was Commander of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base from 1976 to 1979. During the time he worked to convert the wing from using the A-7D aircraft to the A-10 aircraft, which eventually became a staple at the base.

The 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (pictured), the first operational A-10 unit, was based at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. The base, operational since 1942 closed on March 31, 1993. The base is now home to The Market Common, one of the fastest growing communities in Myrtle Beach. The City of Myrtle Beach

Finally, in 1977, through Reed’s efforts, the 354th was the first operationally ready wing of the A-10 aircraft in the United States Air Force. During that time the base worked to train and prepare in case of an attack from the Soviet Union.

“All of the Wing’s squadrons were actively involved in developing deployment procedures and would ensure the Wing would be prepared, on short notice, to deploy and conduct combat operations worldwide, primarily in Europe,” a plaque reads.

The wing also worked to set many firsts for the plane, including “demonstrating high aircraft sortie rates, perfecting rapid re-arming and turnaround techniques, maintaining a high aircraft in-commission rate, refining close air support tactics and perfecting the capability to operate from very austere locations,” a plaque on Reed states.

After, Reed served as chief of staff at Supreme Headquarter Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium, Air Force assistant vice chief of staff in Washington D.C. and as Air Force representative to the U.S. Delegation to the Military Staff Committee in the United Nations.

During his time in uniform he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

The four diagonal stripes represent the squadrons that initially composed the unit. The red mustang shows spped and swift string power in battle and the crossed swords represent tenacity, aggressiveness and readiness to accomplish the objective. The City of Myrtle Beach

“A four star general, you don’t get to be that way without being pretty good,” Barton said.

How he helped to shape The Market Common

On top of placing plaques across The Market Common, the Redevelopment Authority worked to make Valor Park to honor hero’s of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, and they built small museums in the Base Recreation Center and Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium.

One of the bigger projects that the committee completed was the Wall of Service, a wall that lists the names and dates of those that served on the base.

“He was just a great man that happened to be a part of our community and loved our community and loved that area and wanted to make sure that whatever was developed there was developed first class and would have a lasting impact on our city,” Rhodes said.

Now, Reed will be remembered by a street name. Reed Street runs from Farrow Parkway and leads up to the AMC movie theater in The Market Common.

On Dec. 28 the family will receive friends from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at McMillan-Small Funeral Home. On Dec. 29, a Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach. Reed will be buried at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minn. with full military honors.

“We’re going to miss him greatly and we’re very appreciative of the impact he’s had in building the community of Market Common for our great city,” Rhodes said.

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic

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