Robert Wayne Eastman

NO. 17523  •  5 June 1925 – 7 November 1978

Died 7 November 1978 in Washington. D. C., aged 53 years.
Interment West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York.


ROBERT WAYNE EASTMAN was born 5 June 1925 to Wayne and Maxine Eastman, natives of Michigan. He and his sister Ruth grew up on the family farm in Jackson, Michigan. He attended Concord High School, where his grades (all -A's) explain his relative ease, later, in dealing with academics at the Point. In addition, be found time to play baseball and basketball, be active in drama, serve on the student council and graduate number one in his high school class (1943). From December 1943 to April 1944, Bob attended Maryville College in Maryland, Tennessee as an Aviation Cadet in the College Training Detachment. Next, he served until March 1946 as a field artilleryman during World War II in the Army Airways Communications Systems of the Air Corps. Immediately prior to West Point, he attended the USMA Preparatory School at Amherst, Massachusetts. In September 1945, he received a West Point appointment from Earl C. Michener (2nd District, Michigan).

"New Guinea was never like this!" was Bob's assessment of Beast Barracks. Entering the academy at age 21, with overseas ribbons adding color to the drab cadet gray, he seemed serious and more mature than his classmates, though he did not hang back when it came time to throw the company's yearlings into the showers (they didn't go willingly!). Nor was he above mixing it up with the 'enemy.' He wore a Navy bathrobe for some time after one Army-Navy game.

Three years in the Army and a well?rounded education assured academic and tactical success at West Point. A B1 Flanker," Bob was First Sergeant his firstie year. He was active in track all four years and in the French Club for two years. He served as manager of the track team his last three years, earning a Manager's "A" letter. In addition, he was busy with the Howitzer, serving as the Special Programs Company Representative and Class History Editor of the 1950 Howitzer. His classmates remember Bob's soft?spoken, unpretentious style and fine sense of humor; he was well?liked. Standing #168 First Class year, he was clearly capable and bright, but deliberate - not the type to act without thinking.

Bob's first military assignment, beginning August 1950, was to the 2nd Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There he met Cynthia M. Wildman of Lawton, Oklahoma. Bob and Cynthia were married on 10 April 1951 at Fort Sill. They had two children, Robert Todd (born in Frankfurt, Germany, January 1953) and Melissa Anne (born in Lawton, Oklahoma, December 1955). There followed many happy years with squaredancing on weekends. He enjoyed bridge and taught the two children to play. Bob also enjoyed water skiing, reading and Fine Scotch whiskey.

After assignments with numerous artillery units in Europe, Korea and Fort Sill, Bob was assigned to the 548th Artillery Group in Ludenscheid, Germany in May 1960. When Bob was assigned to CENTAG in Mannheim. the family moved to the Heidelberg area. Following a brief stint at Fort Lewis, Washington, Bob became the Executive Officer of Headquarters, 8th Missile Battalion, 15th Artillery at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida.

After the Homestead assignment, Bob was at Arlington Heights, Illinois for a short time. Like any other father looking for an opportunity to show his daughter "what Daddy did for a living," Bob took Melissa and her entire sixth grade class on a tour of his facility. Needless to say, the underground computers, radar screens, and mysterious blinking lights left a lasting impression on a very, very proud (and a little bit frightened) daughter.

Following assignments were to the Eighth Army headquarters in Korea front 1965 to 1966 and the 1st Logistics Command in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 as Deputy Inspector General. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1968, he served in the S&F, TAS, Fort Sill, Oklahoma from 1968- 72, receiving his first Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his achievements there. As an instructor of junior officers. he received another award: the nickname "Smiley" - given by his students in recognition, no doubt, of his somber approach to a serious subject.

Bob and Cynthia were divorced in the spring of 1971.

His next job was Chief, Fire Support Branch, Operations Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, US Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, Hawaii from 1972-75.

Bob was awarded a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California in 1975. It was at his graduation ceremony that an Air Force classmate encountered Bob and renewed the friendship which began at West Point, over twenty years previously. "Bob took us in tow and showed us the sights in Hawaii. We were there for only three months. Without him, knowing no one when we arrived, we would have missed much of what old friends from the past had to offer."

Bob earned the Army Commendation Medal while at the 45th Artillery Brigade headquarters and the Legion of Merit while serving in Vietnam. He was awarded his second Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his accomplishments while serving at Fort Shafter.

Bob retired in April 1978 at Fort Bragg with the rank of lieutenant colonel and spent the summer looking at MBA programs, then applying to and being accepted by the University of Texas. However, before the summer ended, Bob realized that some physical problem was causing dangerous difficulties with driving. A CATSCAN and other tests eventually revealed two small brain tumors and inoperable lung cancer.

So, Bob had very little time after leaving the Army. He spent his last weeks at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D. C., where friends and family spent some happy times with him. Melissa, able to visit him frequently as she was living in Williamsburg, Virginia at the time, taught him to play backgammon, Though losing weight and growing weaker, he remained ever a loving father and true gentleman. Bob covered the seriousness of his illness well. Neither close friends nor family realized he would never attend his first class at the University of Texas. Bob died at Walter Reed in November 1978 and was buried at West Point.

He will be remembered always as a loving and protective father and brother, and a generous and loyal friend.

Family and Classmates