Bobby Bagley was born on February 10, 1933, in Cumming, Georgia. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 14, 1950, and received an honorable discharge on November 1, 1952. Bagley was then accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force, and he began training on December 31, 1952. He graduated with a commission as a 2d Lt and was awarded his pilot wings on June 10, 1954, and was trained as a reconnaissance pilot. He flew with the 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from November 1955 to June 1958, and then with the 38th TRS at Phalsborg AB, France, from June 1958 to December 1959. Bagley then served with the 20th TRS, again at Shaw AFB, from December 1959 to June 1962, when he was transferred to the 17th TRS at Laon AB, France, where he served until February 1966. Bagley was next assigned as a Reconnaissance Operations Officer with 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB from February to May 1966, and then with 7th Air Force at Tan Son Nhut AB in the Republic of Vietnam from May 1966 to June 1967. Maj Bagley then volunteered to fly combat missions and was stationed with the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June 1967 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam on September 16, 1967. Bagley was immediately captured and was taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,007 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. Col Bagley was hospitalized for a short time because of his injuries and then returned to duty as Deputy Commander for Operations of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw AFB, where he served from August 1973 to August 1974. He then served at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon from August 1974 to August 1975, when he became Commander of the United States Logistics Group at Karamursel Common Defense Installation, Turkey, where he served until December 1976. Col Bagley's next assignment was as Deputy Commander for Operations and Air Force Base Group Commander for the 64th Flying Training Wing at Reese AFB, Texas, from December 1976 to July 1978. He then returned to the Logistics Group at Karamursel in Turkey from July 1978 to November 1979 before becoming the Assistant Chief of Staff and Director of Tactical Operations for 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB, where he served from November 1979 until his retirement from the Air Force on November 26, 1981. Bobby Bagley died of cancer on December 5, 1997, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
Major Bobby R. Bagley distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Son La, North Vietnam, on 16 September 1967. On that date, Major Bagley was assigned as wingman in a flight of two unarmed and unescorted RF-101 aircraft on a post strike photographic reconnaissance mission against the Northwest Railroad. He displayed unprecedented bravery when, on egress, he was hit by air to air missiles, but continued giving his leader warning information at a time when his own aircraft was completely disabled and on fire. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Major Bagley has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.