Stories of Honor: Marine pilot Bob Whaley earned 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robert G. Whaley (retired), of Missoula, served three tours of duty in Vietnam, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Whaley, 88, spent 21 years of active duty in the military, piloting helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft prior to various administrative and high level staff assignments.

Marine Lt. Col. (retired) Bob Whaley

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Whaley graduated from Missoula County High in 1954, where he played football (defensive back, safety) and was a 440 man in track. He was part of four state championships with the powerful Spartans his junior and senior years – two each in football and track and field. In 1954, Bob was the state runner-up in the quarter-mile, clocking 51.0 seconds.

He earned a grid scholarship to Carroll College, helping the Ray “Dutch” Hunthausen-coached Saints to MCC (Montana College Conference) crowns in 1954 and 1956. A few of his Hilltop teammates and buddies were guys like Hank Lange, Earl Heller, Dan Cloninger, Leon Willis, Jim Ryan, Joe Gilbo, Harry Downs, Guido Bugni, Corky Hull, John Romasko and Tom Twichel.

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