Bob Hufschmid

Bob & Suzy Hufschmid


 Cullum No. 23834-1962 | November 2, 1968 | Died in Vietnam

Interred in West Point Cemetery.

Robert George Hufschmid was born to Helene and George Hufschmid. Growing up in the Long Island community of Hewlett, NY, he stood out in academics and sports. Bob attended Hewlett High School where he was class president freshman, sophomore, and senior years and president of the student council during junior year. Bob graduated fourth in the class of 1958 and lettered in baseball and football.

Deciding early on a military career, Bob entered West Point with the Class of 1962, turning down full scholarships to Princeton and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

His Howitzer entry provides an accurate summary of four years at the academy. He wore stars yearling, cow, and first class years. The ‘pad’ and ‘dragging’ were favorite activities, in that order. The English Literature Seminar, Debate Council and Forum, and Handball Club comprised cocurricular pursuits, and he played on the Engineer football team. First Class year we lost him to brigade staff for a new position: Brigade Activities Officer. He remained a player in our weekend activities, and his sister Martha drove us to and from West Point on a number of occasions.

Bob graduated 19th out of 601 and received his diploma from President John F. Kennedy. Artillery was his branch of choice. When asked why not Engineers, the reply was, “Most generals come out of the Artillery”.

Following graduation, Bob attended Basic Field Artillery Officer Course at Ft. Sill and Airborne and Ranger schools at Ft. Benning before selecting a hardship tour in Korea with the 7th Infantry Division. He felt his unit, 179th Artillery, having a defensive DMZ mission, would enable him to focus on “learning the ropes.”

Ft. Bragg was next. As a project officer, Airborne Test Division, Airborne, Electronics, and Special Warfare Board, he conducted tests on numerous pieces of equipment, e.g., the M102 105mm howitzer. He was probably the Army’s leading authority on internal/external transportation by helicopter, and also played a key part in developing deployment methods for airborne forces from C141s. Bob was an original “Jet Jumper,” earning senior parachute wings. Ft. Bragg was not all work, since he met his future wife, Helen (Suzy) Gaunt, there.

Ft. Sill followed, for the Advanced Field Artillery Officer Course. Bob and Suzy were married in Richmond, VA, on Jul 2, 1966. Next day, they returned to Oklahoma. 

Following March graduation, the newlyweds sailed to Hawaii for Bob’s next duty with the Honest John Battalion at Schofield Barracks, left behind when the 25th Division deployed to Vietnam. About that time, the 6th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, also at Schofield, was alerted for deployment, and its commander arranged for Bob’s transfer to take over Bravo Battery. 

According to reports, Bob made excellent initial impressions and through determination and dynamic leadership turned Bravo Battery into an outstanding, combat ready unit. The 611th left for Vietnam in December 1967 with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade.

Shortly after arrival, Bob was promoted to major and took over as battalion S3. The 611th became heavily involved in ground operations in support of their brigade. Bob adapted quickly to rapidly changing conditions and requirements. Dale Barker from 611th recounts an interesting story about LZ Bronco (brigade headquarters): Bob and three other of fduty staff members were playing bridge in the FDC bunker when he heard “bad” coordinates for a fire mission. He immediately jumped to his feet, threw his bridge cards to the ceiling, and screamed, “Cease fire! Drop to the rear of your piece!” The coordinates transmitted were those of the battalion FDC. No one else, on or off duty, noticed the blunder. Bob multitasked before there was a term for it; he caught the error and saved a number of lives.

From arrival through August of 1968, Bob participated in over 25 dangerous aerial missions over hostile territory in support of brigade ground operations and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal.

Prior to leaving Hawaii, Bob and fellow battery commander Captain Charles Pearcy arranged for their wives to share a condominium while they were in Vietnam. Captain Pearcy also had been promoted and reassigned to division Artillery staff. With less than a month left on their tours, he arranged orders rotating Bob and himself back together.

On November 1, Major Pearcy met with Bob at brigade headquarters for a briefing on an upcoming operation: Vernon Lake II. Later, he brought Bob up to date on plans for their return to Hawaii, but after lunch, Bob expressed apprehension regarding the upcoming operation, which was to be his last. The next day, Bob arrived at LZ CORK with Bravo and Delta Batteries to survey the guns. As Bob stepped from a helicopter, six incoming 82mm mortar rounds hit close by, and he was fatally wounded. Major Pearcy and Bob did return together; he escorted Bob’s remains to West Point, and his wife escorted Suzy from Hawaii for the funeral.

Always thinking ahead, Bob had sent Suzy a letter containing a list of 20 things to do in the event he did not return from Vietnam. Somewhere between 1 and 19 was a wish that she would visit Germany and meet his relatives. Number 20 was to remarry and have a happy life, which she has done.

Bob was a genuine good guy, admired and respected by friends and those under him. Classmates and coworkers have described assets that would have made him likely general officer material, successful in business or even politics. He was a person who knew exactly what he wanted in life and was methodical in focusing on and working toward those goals. This focus, however, was never to the detriment of anyone around him.

–Peter Oldfield, with input from family, classmates, and fellow soldiers

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