Robert J. Low – Colonel, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:

Robert J. Low, 84, a decorated Army colonel who flew rescue missions during some of the Korean War's harshest fighting and retired in 1963 as chief of the office of aviation affairs at the Pentagon, died December 4, 2001, at his home in Bethesda, Maryland.

He had emphysema and had been in ill health since a fall at his home three months ago.

Colonel Low entered the Army in 1941 and was an aviation officer in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II.

In the Korean War, he flew unarmed light aircraft to direct artillery and naval gunfire supporting ground troops. In this role he took part in the famed amphibious landing at Inchon in September 1950, and subsequent fighting around Seoul.

In December 1950, Communist Chinese troops crossed the Yalu River and entered the war, driving United Nations forces out of North Korea. This led to the epic retreat of the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir on the border of North Korea and China.

For five days during that operation, Colonel Low, then a Major, evacuated wounded from makeshift and often-icy airstrips. For this, he was awarded a Silver Star.

After the war, Colonel Low became a helicopter pilot and taught air tactics at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He also helped develop the helicopter assault doctrine that the 1st Air Cavalry Division used during the Vietnam War.

In addition to the Silver Star, Colonel Low's military decorations included the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and seven awards of the Air Medal.

After retiring, he spent about seven years doing sales and lobbying work for North American Aviation and the Aerospace Industries Association.

Colonel Low, a Richmond native, attended Randolph Macon College on a football scholarship.

His memberships included the American Legion. He was a past member of the executive board of the Army Aviation Association of America.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Frances Headley Low of Bethesda; three children, Robert J. Low Jr. of Washington, Brian D. Low of Bethesda and Melissa Low of Damascus; and four grandchildren.


On December 4, 2001, Colonel Robert J. Low, (AUS Retired), beloved husband of Frances Low for 60 years and devoted father of Robert J. Low, Jr., Melissa A. Low and Brian D. Low. He is also survived by grandchildren, Rebecca C. Low, David P. Low, Brian D. Low, Jr., and Anthony W. Low.

He served his family with love and his country with honor, earning the Silver Star and 12 other combat decorations in WWII and Korea. Friends are invited to attend his interment with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, December 27, 2001 at 3 p.m. and/or the celebration of his life following at 4:30 p.m. at the home of his son Robert, Jr., 1827 Park Road, NW, Washington, DC. Gather at the Administration Building through the main entrance at Arlington National Cemetery by 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any Humane Society.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 11/20/1946 – 12/31/1963
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/01/1917
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/04/2001
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 12/27/2001

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