Robert H. Schaller

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Vietnam


Robert H. Schaller was born on 2 February 1940 to Larry and Jessie Schaller. Bob grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and was a 1958 graduate of Moses Brown High School, where he was an outstanding student and a member of the football, track and swim teams. He entered the University of Rhode Island in September 1958, where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. Bob participated in the Army ROTC Program, was designated a “Distinguished Military Graduate” and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Quartermaster Corps, United States Army, upon graduation from URI in 1962.

Captain Schaller deployed to Vietnam in 1967 and was assigned as the Company Commander, 573rd Supply and Service Company, Pleiku. His unit supplied petroleum to all U.S. Forces in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Captain Schaller participated in the 1967 Thanksgiving Offensive in Dak To and the 1968 TET Offensive.

Citation – Award of the Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor

During the rocket and mortar attacks on February 3 and February 6, 1968, Captain Schaller, in total disregard of his own safety, ignored the mounting flames, rushed to shut down valves from a tank of highly explosive jet fuel when a destroyed pipe began to feed the inferno. Despite being injured and the constant danger of an explosion he aided others in removing aviation gasoline hoses from another fire to prevent them from melting and spewing their contents into the flames.

His personal bravery and devotion to duty saved many lives, thousands of gallons of fuel and highly critical equipment which included a fuel pump needed to support combat units in his area of operations. While injured, his leadership and courage inspired the fire-fighting teams to stronger efforts to contain and put out the flames. His heroic performance was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army. Captain Schaller was also awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for wounds received during the rocket attack.

Volunteering for a second tour of duty in Vietnam, he was assigned to Headquarters, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) with the responsibility for insuring logistics operations in support of combat operations in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Through this period, he displayed qualities of leadership, decision-making and professionalism that you would normally not find in an officer of his grade and experience.

LTC Schaller was selected for a key logistics position with the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. As the Commander, Division Materiel Management Center he was responsible for all logistical support to units of the 25th Infantry Division. As a result of his outstanding performance LTC Schaller was selected as Logistics Staff Officer, U.S. Army Western Command. As a result of his outstanding performance, he was selected for another key logistics assignment.

In March 1984, he assumed the duties as Chief, Procurement Division, U.S. Army Natick Research and Engineering Center, Natick, Massachusetts. Bob demonstrated outstanding technical knowledge, leadership and professionalism in supporting the “Army’s Soldier Support Center.” He initiated the design of a fully automated contract management system which contributed directly to the overall mission of supporting soldiers in the field. LTC Schaller was the recipient of the General Frank Besson Memorial Award for Procurement Excellence.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Schaller retired in September 1986, after more than 24 years of service and was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service to our country. Sadly, he suffered from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning home from Vietnam in 1968. The symptoms were only known to his immediate family as he “just lived with it for many years.” After the 9/11 attacks on the United States, his PTSD symptoms became worse; and his convinced him to seek help. He enrolled in a VA Group Therapy Program (Seeking Safety). LTC Schaller was not only helping himself to cope with his symptoms; he was able to assist other veterans while in group sessions.

After retiring from active duty, Bob spent 20 years teaching special education. It was during this period, when his health began to fail him; and he was diagnosed with Proteinuria as a result of exposure to “Agent Orange” during his combat tours in Vietnam. Proteinuria is associated with cardiovascular and renal disease and is a predictor of end organ damage in patients with hypertension. Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Schaller died on 3 May 2015 and was survived by his wife Kathryn. He was buried with full military honors in the Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island.

His awards included the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with OLC, Meritorious Service Medal with 3 OLCs, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with OLC, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal with “V” FOR HEROISM, numerous foreign awards for Vietnam service and the Army Staff Badge. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College, received a Master of Arts Degree in Business Management from Central Michigan University in 1982 and a Masters of Education from Rivier University, Nashua, NH in 1988.

Lieutenant Colonel Bob Schaller was a long-standing member and leader of the URI Alumni Association and one of the strongest supporters of the University of Rhode Island Washington, DC, Alumni Chapter and the URI Foundation.