Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Wallace Jr., “Bob,” 77, of Sunset Road, died Friday, March 30, 2007, at home in the arms of his wife after a short battle with acute leukemia.
He was born in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, on December 11, 1929, the son of Robert Emmett and Kathryn Lenihan Wallace. He was a 1947 graduate of Bourne High School, Massachusetts, and enlisted in the Army Air Corps on August 18, 1947, and started his career training to be an airplane and engine mechanic.
He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Patricia; his children and their spouses, David M. and Lynda Wallace of Holly Springs, North Carolina, Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. and Therese Wallace of York, Maine, Cynthia M. and Jon Rousseau of York, Maine, Kevin J. and Katherine Wallace of Litchfield, Heather A. and William Bundy of Camden, South Carolina, and Timothy C. and Kimberly Dalbec of Ladson, South Carolina. He is also survived by his sisters, Katherine Mary Layton of Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, and Helen and her husband, Robert Smith, of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts; his first wife, Georgeanne E. Wallace of York, Maine; 13 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Colonel Wallace went on to become a search and rescue pilot, serving 22 years out of the country. Some of the locations he was stationed during his career were Alaska, Texas, Burma, France, Saudi Arabia, Alabama, Maine, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vietnam, Germany and Delaware. While serving in the Vietnam War as a Major and senior pilot with an air rescue unit at Da Nang, he helped to rebuild orphanages at Tuy Hoa to replace those destroyed in the conflict. Colonel Wallace also served with the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service, and was involved with many of its space missions in those early years and got to know just about all of the astronauts.
One of many fun things he got to do was to play a small part in the movie, “Thunderball” with 007 agent James Bond.
Colonel Wallace retired in June of 1975 out of Dover, Delaware, after having served for 28 years and having been awarded numerous medals, including two Distinguished Flying Cross Medals for valor in aerial combat, two Bronze Star Medals, eight Air Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal and three presidential unit citations. Colonel Wallace's name has been engraved on the DFC panel at the new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Colonel Wallace was a command pilot with more than 13,000 hours, 1,000 of which were in combat.
After retiring, he and his family moved to Florida for a short time before coming back to New England. He started working in commercial real estate in the early '80s, and went on to establish his own company, Wallace Commercial/Industrial Associates Ltd. in May, 1988. Never having forgotten the people of Vietnam, he became instrumental in assisting several people to come to the United States to pursue a higher education and escape the challenges and obstacles of living under a communist government.
He was active in many “fun” fund-raisers during the '80s, like the “Ceres Street Open” and “The First Annual Tricycle Race,” which benefited several local charities. He also helped out with Market Square Day and the Maritime Commission in their developmental years. He enjoyed his two rat terriers, his gardens and spending time on his boat.
There is not enough space to mention all that he did, but those who knew him know what he accomplished.
Burial services will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a date yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Seacoast Hospice, 10 Hampton Road, Exeter, NH 03833, or the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia 20151.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard