Lt Gen Bob Rogers passes awayDate: 4 June 2000
One of South Africa's most distinguished and most decorated airmen, Lieutenant-General RHD "Bob" Rogers, DSO, DFC and Bar, died in Cape Town on Sunday after a long illness, a family friend said on Monday. Rogers was 78.
After his retirement in 1979 as Chief of the SA Air Force, he became active in civic, parliamentary and other spheres. As an MP, he became the Democratic Party's spokesman on defence.
Rogers studied medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand until mid-1940, before joining the South African Air Force as a volunteer for active service in World War 2, first qualifying as an air gunner. When he volunteered to train as a pilot, he went to Southern Rhodesia for training.
He served as a tactical reconnaissance pilot in North Africa with the Royal Air Force's 208 Squadron, and on his second tour of duty he served with 40 Squadron, SAAF, in North Africa and Italy. While flying Hurricanes and Spitfires, he was shot down once and had a finger shot off while fighting German Bf109's. His cool manner under pressure, naturalleadership abilities and efficiency saw him promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and placed in command of 225 Sqd, RAF. Towards the end of WWII, General Rogers was put in charge of his old squadron, 40 Sqn, SAAF.
In addition to the DSO and DFC and Bar awarded to him for gallantry, he was presented with the Polish Flying Badge by the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force.
After the war, Rogers accepted a permanent commission in the SAAF with the rank of captain, and in 1951 and again in 1953 he served with the SAAF's 2 Squadron in Korea as a fighter bomber in Mustangs and F86 Sabres.
He was awarded the American DFC, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Korean Chungmu Decoration with Gold Star.
He went on to hold various command and staff posts, and at the end of 1974 he was appointed Acting Chief of the Air Force. He was appointed Lieutenant-General in March 1975.
For service in the SAAF, he was awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa, the Southern Cross Medal and the Chief of Defence Force Commendation (now known as the Medal of Military Merit).