Bob Love was born on December 28, 1917, in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. He received his private pilot's license in 1940, and later joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the United States entered World War II, Love enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on February 21, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Stockton Field, California, on October 30, 1942. After completing Advanced Flying School Instructor training in January 1943, Lt Love served as a flight instructor and training squadron commander at Williams Field, Arizona, until near the end of the war. After completing P-38 Lightning upgrade training, he served as a P-38 instructor pilot at the P-38 Operational Training Unit at Ontario Army Air Field, California, until he left active duty on February 9, 1946. Captain Love joined the California Air National Guard on November 9, 1946, and served as an F-51 Mustang pilot with the 196th Fighter Squadron of the California ANG from November 1946 until he was activated on October 10, 1950. During this time he attended F-80 Shooting Star jet fighter transition training from January to March 1948, and attended the Airborne Radar School at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, graduating from the course in November 1950. His next assignment was as an F-80 pilot with the 196th Fighter Bomber Squadron at George AFB, California, from November 1950 to January 1951, followed by service as an F-80 and then F-84 Thunderjet pilot with the 158th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands from February to June 1951. Captain Love served as a Flight Test Maintenance Officer with the 116th Maintenance Squadron at George AFB and then deployed to Misawa AB, Japan, from June 1951 to January 1952, followed by service as an F-86 Sabre pilot with the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Kimpo AB, South Korea, from January to May 1952. During this time he was credited with the destruction of 6 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, making him the 1st of only 4 Air National Guard pilots to become aces during the Korean War. He left active duty and returned to the California ANG on May 20, 1952, serving as Commander of the 8196th Air Base Squadron at Ontario ANGB, California, from May to July 1952. Major Love's next assignment was as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer with the 196th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ontario ANGB from July 1952 to July 1955, followed by service as Commander of the 8196th Replacement Training Squadron at Ontario from August 1955 to January 1957. He served as Wing Flying Safety Officer for the 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Van Nuys ANGB from January 1957 to April 1958, and then as Armament Staff Officer for the 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Van Nuys from April to May 1958. Major Love served as the Commander of the 196th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ontario ANGB from May 1958 to April 1959, followed by service as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer with the 163rd Fighter Group at Ontario ANGB from April 1959 until he left the California ANG and joined the Air Force Reserve on May 12, 1959. He retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Major on August 29, 1964. During this Air National Guard career, Bob Love participated in the Bendix Jet Division Race in 1948, and was the Air Force Team Captain for the Allison Trophy Race in 1949. He later served as a Test Pilot for Northrop Aircraft, spent time in Central America as a mercenary fighter pilot, and raced in the inaugural Reno Air Races in 1964; continuing to fly modified P-51's in the Unlimited Category at the closed-course pylon races at the Reno Air Races for the next 22 years. He won his last race at Reno on September 13, 1986, and was found dead of probable heart failure sitting next to his airplane in his hanger in California on December 6, 1986.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
Captain ROBERT J. LOVE distinguished himself by gallantry in action against an enemy of the United Nations as a Pilot, 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Group, on 21 April 1952. While leading a flight of F-86s protecting fighter bombers, Captain LOVE sighted a battle, and, singling out an enemy element, initiated an attack. Intercepted by four enemy fighters before his element could complete the attack, Captain LOVE split the flight and attacked its leader. Despite numerically superior opposition, Captain LOVE maneuvered into position, scoring hits on the MIG which caused the pilot to eject himself. Captain LOVE then broke from the remaining MIG to aid his wingman who was being fired upon as he pressed an attack. Intercepting the enemy's threat, Captain LOVE closed to within two hundred yards, holding his fire to conserve his limited ammunition. Captain LOVE's skillful attack resulted in destruction of another enemy aircraft, and provided protection while his wingman completed destruction of the MIG he had engaged. Through his extraordinary valor and outstanding airmanship in the face of determined opposition, Captain LOVE reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the United States Air Force.