Bob Stirm was born in 1933 in San Francisco, California. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force for pilot training on September 18, 1953, and was processed through to Basic Observer training and then Radar Observer training, earning his commission as a 2d Lt on November 3, 1954. Lt Stirm next served as an F-94C Starfire radar observer with the 96th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at New Castle AFB, Delaware, followed by service as an F-89C and D Scorpion radar observer with the 57th FIS at Keflavik Airport, Iceland; as an F-89D and H radar observer with the 432nd FIS at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Minnesota; and then as an F-89J radar observer with the 54th FIS at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, from November 1954 to April 1958. He then completed pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Laredo AFB, Texas, in May 1959. After completing advanced interceptor pilot training, he served as an F-102 Delta Dagger pilot with the 64th FIS at McChord AFB, Washington, from November 1959 to January 1960, and as an F-106 Delta Dart pilot with the 318th FIS at McChord from January 1960 to May 1961. Capt Stirm next served as Assistant Chief of the Exercise Branch with Headquarters 25th Air Division at McChord AFB from May to July 1961, followed by service as an F-106 pilot and on the Tactical Evaluation Team with the 25th Air Division at McChord from August 1961 to September 1964. His next assignment was as an F-102 pilot and stan/eval officer with the 32nd FIS at Camp New Amsterdam in the Netherlands from September 1964 to January 1967, and he then attended F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training from January to August 1967. Maj Stirm served as an F-105 pilot with the 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from August 1967 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on October 27, 1967. After spending 1,966 days in captivity, Lt Col Stirm was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Travis AFB, California, and then received an Education with Industry assignment with Lockheed Aircraft Corp. at Sunnyvale, California, from September 1973 to June 1974. Col Stirm then attended pilot requalification training at Randolph AFB, Texas, followed by service as an F-4E Phantom II pilot, Director of Operations, and then Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida, from September 1974 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1977.
His 2nd (of 3) Silver Star Citation reads:
This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring International agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions and propaganda materials. This American resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.