Born 8/2/45 Jackson, Mississippi Married to Doris Ann (Dee Dee) Long in 1975
Graduated 1962 McGregor High School, McGregor, Minnesota B.A. 1966 University of Minnesota, Duluth Majors: Geography, Political Science Minor: Air Science AFROTC Distinguished Military Graduate Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Regular Air Force, on 9 June 1966 USAF Hometown of Record: Tamarack, Minnesota
Undergraduate Navigator Training (UNT) Class 67-20 -- Mather AFB, CA Navigator-Bombardier Training (NBT) Class 68-7 -- Mather AFB, CA B-52 Combat Crew Training - Winter, 1968 -- Castle AFB, CA Received Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) 1525D-- B-52D Navigator (ASQ-48 Bombing & Navigation System)
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to 306th Bomb Wing, McCoy AFB, FL -- 1968-70 Certified as B-52C & D Combat Crew Navigator, Airborne/Pad Alert -- Summer, 1968 Temporary Duty (TDY) to SEA/Vietnam War under Operation Arc Light -- 1968-70 -- 145 combat missions
Military decorations include the Air Medal with Six Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Captain Harder was upgrading to B-52D radar navigator when his resignation was approved under the 1970 Christmas Early Out Program. Separated 12/19/70.
Private Pilot Certificate--1971 Instrument Rating--1975 Multi-Engine Rating--1975 Commercial Pilot--1976 Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI)--1978
After his military service, Mr. Harder entered a management training program with Target Stores, Inc., a young upstart company of only 27 stores in 1971, though it appeared to hold considerable promise for future growth. After a subsequent, lengthy stint in the merchandise catalog showroom industry, he capped his long retailing career as a vice president of Montgomery Ward & Co., Chicago. Later, he was involved in real estate investment and management, getting out of that business by 2004, having learned in Air Force navigator and bombardier schools the enormous benefits associated with precision timing. He is currently pursuing a full-time writing career.
In addition to military matters, Harder also writes about American colonial and frontier life, both a lifelong interest. Although he is descended mostly from late 19th century Norwegian/German immigrants, his maternal grandmother Nelson/Barnett traced her heritage all the way back to colonial Virginia. Various Barnett oral and written histories passed down for over 300 years also document the family connection to the Algonquian medicine woman, Matoaka, more commonly known as Pocahontas. Recent family DNA tests confirm a 3% Native American content in Harder's generation, a value that could only have had its origins in pre-1700 A.D. Virginia. (Click here for a full narrative on Harder's Colonial Virginia & Native American ancestry).
A member of the Authors Guild and Society of Midland Authors, Harder is also associated with a number of aviation organizations and historical societies,including the 306th Bomb (Group) Wing Association, Air Force Navigators/Observers Association, and the Pritzker Military Library of Chicago. In 2012, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the B-52 Stratofortress Association. He and his wife, Dee Dee, live in Chicago and at their summer cabin on Big Sandy Lake in northern Minnesota.
Vice-President of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey, presents USAF Second
Lieutenant Robert O. Harder with his graduation diploma during ceremonies at the
University of Minnesota, Duluth. The AFROTC cadet had been commissioned only hours
earlier. June 9, 1966.
Undergraduate Navigator Training Class 67-20, B Section, posing with a T-29C "Flying Classroom." Robert O. Harder is kneeling front row, far right. Immediately to his right is Lt. Joe Allen, destined to become Brigadier General John J. (Joe) Allen, USAF (Ret.). Joe was one of the very few navigators of the Vietnam era to receive a flag. Immediately to Joe's right is Lt. John Clemen, who became a B-52/Arc Light electronic warfare officer. John, in later life a lawyer specializing in aviation matters, made substantial text contributions to "Flying in the Black Hole.