Robert Emmens was born on July 22, 1914, in Medford, Oregon. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on February 23, 1937, and was commissioned a 2LT and awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on February 16, 1938. Emmens served at Randolph Field, Texas, and March Field, California, before being assigned to the 89th Reconnaissance Squadron at McChord Field, Washington, in June 1940. He served with the 89th until he was selected to participate in the Doolittle Mission in February 1942. Lt Emmens was the co-pilot on the eighth B-25 to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, and after bombing its assigned targets in Japan, the crew landed their aircraft in neutral Russia, where they were interned until escaping in May 1943. After returning to the United States, Emmens was assigned as Commander of the 494th Bomb Squadron at Lakeland, Florida, from July to August 1943, and then as the Operations Officer and then Deputy Commander of the 334th Bomb Group at Greenville AAB, South Carolina, from August 1943 to September 1944. He was Deputy Base Commander at Greenville AAB from September to December 1944, and then Military Attache and Air Attache to Rumania from December 1944 to January 1948. Col Emmens then served at Headquarters USAF at the Pentagon from April 1948 to July 1950, when he was transferred to Salzburg, Austria, as an Intelligence Officer. He then served as an Intelligence Officer with Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from July 1953 to June 1955, followed by duty with the 4434th Air Base Squadron at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, from June 1955 to July 1956, during which time he served as an Air Commander and later as Squadron Commander. Col Emmens served as Deputy Commander of the 342nd and then the 354th Fighter Day Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB from July 1956 to May 1957, when he began training for duty as an Air Attache to Japan. He served as Air Attache to Japan from June 1958 to September 1961, and then served as Commander of the Office of Special Investigations District 20 at McChord AFB, Washington, from September 1961 to August 1963. Col Emmens retired from the Air Force on June 10, 1964, and died on April 2, 1992. He was buried at Eastwood Cemetery in Medford, Oregon.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland on April 18, 1942. Lieutenant Emmens volunteered for this mission knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote, and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on Lieutenant Emmens and the military services.