Robert Long was born on November 7, 1967, in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. He became an Eagle Scout in 1985, and graduated from Wheat Ridge High School in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, in 1986. Robert then attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, where he was a member of the Pershing Rifle Team in the Air Force ROTC Program, earning his commission as a 2d Lt in May 1990. Lt Long went on active duty beginning November 3, 1990, and then attended Weapons Director training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, and E-3 Sentry AWACS Weapons Director training at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. His first assignment was as an E-3 AWACS Weapons Director with the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, from November 1991 to May 1995, followed by service as an E-3 AWACS Senior Director with the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from May 1995 until he was killed in the crash of an E-3B Sentry (Call Sign "Yukla 27") shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB on September 22, 1995. Robert Long was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
His Meritorious Service Medal Citation reads:
Members of Flight Yukla 27 distinguished themselves in the performance of outstanding service to the United States and Canada while serving as E-3 Airborne Warning and Air Control Systems air crew members assigned to 3rd Wing, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron and the 381st Air Intelligence Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. They consistantly demonstrated outstanding airmanship while providing long range airborne surveillance, detection, identification, and command and control during deployed operations and in the Alaska region. All were dedicated volunteers selflessly serving, and fully committed to the defense of their nations and the Alaska region. Our memory of these airmen will forever be of professionals who stepped to the front and answered the call to duty and made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace and freedom. The distinctive accomplishments of each of these individuals reflect credit upon themselves, the United States Air Force, and Canadian Forces.