Cover photo for Robert G. Liotta's Obituary
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Robert G. Liotta

March 6, 1929 — January 27, 2023


Robert G. Liotta

Robert G. Liotta, Colonel, US Air Force (Retired) - Wing Commander, Husband, Father, Patriot

Bob Liotta, a highly decorated former fighter pilot, died January 27, 2023 at Manchester, New Hampshire.  He was 93.  Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Suzanne and Dr. Salvatore Liotta, he grew up in Brooklyn, and in Kew Garden Hills, NY, where he met and married his college sweetheart, Barbara.  They were married for 72 years. He earned a Bachelor's degree at the University of Vermont, had a Master's degree from George Washington University, and had two Master's degrees from Brown University.

Graduating from US Air Force Pilot Training in 1950, he began his military career as an Instructor Pilot in San Angelo, Texas.  A kind man with a warm sense of humor, he had empathy with his foreign students from France and Denmark.  He spent much of the next 40 years working beside, and with, foreign nationals - student pilots, liaison officers, and exchange officers.  Even after his Air Force retirement, he worked with other countries, on their territory, on Department of Defense contracts in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and South Korea.

His three years as an Instructor Pilot was spent in a piston-driven plane, the T-6.  When a T-6 pilot was needed as a Forward Air Controller during the Korean War, he spent a year there in a combat role.  He accumulated over 2,000 hours in the T-6.  Returning to the US, he checked out in jet aircraft and went through All Weather Fighter School in the F-86D.  He was then assigned as a fighter-interceptor pilot in NORAD (North American Air Defense) in Winooski, Vermont.

While in Vermont, he became proficient in flying (and often ferrying) the All-Weather Fighter Interceptor, the F-102, building up flying time in delta-wing aircraft.  The F-102 was the first production supersonic fighter aircraft.  After Vermont, he went to a NORAD Sector Headquarters in Topsham, Maine, as the Fighter Operations Officer.  He traveled weekly to Limestone, Maine, to fly the F-106 (the All-Weather Fighter Interceptor with a speed of over 1500 MPH), acquiring still more time in delta-wing aircraft.

While going through Command and Staff School in Montgomery, Alabama, he was selected for an exchange tour with the Royal Australian Air Force, flying the delta-wing French aircraft, the Mirage 3C.  His family accompanied him to Williamtown Air Force Base in New South Wales for a two-year tour.  While there, he also flew the Avon Sabre and the Vampire.

Returning to the US, he became the Commander of the Air Force ROTC program at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  Three years of studying and teaching were followed by a combat tour in Vietnam.  He worked directly with the Vietnamese Air Force, flying the VNAF A-37 for over 300 combat missions.  While in Vietnam, he taught International Relations night classes for the University of Maryland.

He then returned to a piston-driven aircraft, the T-28, as Commander of the 3389th Pilot Training Squadron in the Military Assistance Program at Biloxi, Mississippi, training foreign students - most of whom were Vietnamese.  The Vietnamese student attitudes and aptitudes improved so well that he was chosen to be Wing Commander at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, flying the T-38 and the T-37.  At Sheppard AFB, he had a squadron of Luftwaffe German students and instructors.  Another of the five student squadrons was mainly Vietnamese.

From Sheppard AFB, he progressed to Big Spring, Texas, as Wing Commander of Webb Air Force Base.  There he had student pilots from the US, Vietnam, Iran, and Chile.  After one year, he went to Air Training Command Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, as Assistant Director of Operations for the entire Air Training Command.  He had flown for 25 years, and flown more than 22 types of aircraft, when his flying career ended.  He then became Chief of Foreign Military Affairs for the Air Training Command before being sent to Tehran as an advisor to five Iranian Generals on the Shah of Iran's staff.  He retired after a two-year tour in Iran in 1978.  He had accumulated over 6,000 hours of flying, mostly in single-engine jet aircraft.

Bob worked briefly at NWASI, a Northrop affiliate in Oklahoma, before going back to the Middle East as Mission Manager for Northrop Aircraft at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.  He then went to Meknes, Morocco, as Northrop Program Manager for a DOD contract.  After two years, he worked for seven months at Northrop headquarters in Los Angeles before going to Seoul, Korea, as Offset Manager.  Before retiring and leaving Korea four years later, he had become the Regional Manager for Northrop Aircraft in Northeast Asia.  He retired to Vermont in 1988, and eventually moved across the Connecticut River to New Hampshire.

He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Barbara; their sons Robert of Goodyear, Arizona and Jeffrey of Orr's Island, Maine; their daughters-in-law; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.  He was predeceased by their youngest son, Dr. Peter Hearns Liotta, in 2012.  Services will be private with burial in the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, NH.

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