Bob Goebel was born on February 28, 1923, in Racine, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 4, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on May 24, 1943. His first assignment was flying P-39 Airacobras and P-40 Warhawks with the 43rd Fighter Squadron in Panama from June to December 1943. Goebel then joined the 308th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Group in the Mediterranean Theater where he was credited with destroying 11 enemy aircraft in aerial combat between June and August 1944. He returned to the United States in October 1944 and served as an instructor pilot and ferry pilot until leaving active duty on February 13, 1946. Goebel served in the Air Force Reserve while completing his college degree at the University of Wisconsin, and then joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard, where he served from 1948 until returning to active duty in the Air Force on May 9, 1950. He went through the Atomic Energy Course at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, from May to November 1950, and then served in Atomic Energy assignments at Sandia Base, New Mexico, and then Brize Norton, England, from November 1950 to May 1954. Goebel then served as an Atomic Energy staff officer with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from May 1954 to September 1957, followed by service as a Liaison and in Quality Control in the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base, New Mexico, from September 1957 to August 1961. Maj Goebel then attended Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from August 1961 to February 1962. This was followed by service with NASA in the Gemini Launch Vehicle Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Station from February 1962 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1966. Col Goebel wears Command Pilot Wings and accumulated over 3,000 flying hours during his Air Force career. He and his wife June had nine children together. Bob was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2003, and he died on February 19, 2011.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action as pilot of a P-51 type aircraft. On 18 August 1944, Lt. Goebel participated as escort to heavy bombers attacking strategic enemy installations in Rumania. Over the target, Lt. Goebel observed sixteen (16) enemy aircraft preparing to attack his flight leader. Displaying outstanding aggressiveness and courage, with complete disregard for the overwhelming superiority of enemy aircraft, Lt. Goebel immediately engaged the hostile ships, and, in the ensuing engagement destroyed two (2) enemy fighters and forced the rest to withdraw, thus saving the life of his comrade. Enroute to base, though having serious mechanical difficulties, he again intercepted enemy aircraft and accounted for another enemy fighter destroyed. By his conspicuous gallantry, professional skill and devotion to duty, together with his outstanding combat record of over fifty-five (55) successful missions against the enemy and nine (9) enemy aircraft destroyed in aerial flight, Lt. Goebel has reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.