In Memoriam: Rear Admiral Robert D. Hufstader, MC, USN

June 23, 2022 | By Sam Cox (Rear Adm. USN, Ret.), Director, Naval History and Heritage Command
It is with deep regret I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Robert Duane “Bob” Hufstader, Jr., Medical Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret.), on 1 June 2022 at age 77. Rear Admiral Hufstader enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1962, serving as a hospital corpsman before being commissioned in 1971, then serving as a doctor and senior health care executive until his retirement in 2006 as command surgeon for U.S. Pacific Command. His commands included Naval Hospital Keflavik and Naval Hospital Pensacola, and he also served as deputy director, Medical Corps, and as senior medical officer for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Bob Hufstader enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1962, serving in San Diego and Japan during the early years of the Vietnam War, and advancing to hospital corpsman second class. He then attended University of California–Irvine, graduating cum laude in 1970 with a bachelor of science in biological sciences. In June 1970, he entered the University of California–San Francisco Medical School. He was commissioned an ensign on 29 November 1971 and promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in November 1973. He earned his medical doctor degree in 1974 from University of California–San Francisco Medical School and was promoted to lieutenant in June 1974.

In June 1974, Lieutenant Hufstader commenced his internship at Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego. In July 1975, he reported to the guided-missile cruiser USS Chicago (CG-11) as medical officer, deploying to the Western Pacific and dodging three typhoons. In October 1976, Lieutenant Hufstader was assigned to Naval Regional Medical Center Jacksonville, Florida, for residency in the family practice department. He was promoted to lieutenant commander in April 1978. 
In December 1978, Lieutenant Commander Hufstader was assigned to Naval Hospital Annapolis, Maryland, as a family practice physician. In December 1979, he reported to Naval Regional Medical Center Memphis, Tennessee, as chief of family practice service. In March 1982, Hufstader reported to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. In May 1982, this tour was followed by assignment to Commander Naval Forces Korea Detachment Chinhae as primary care medical officer. He was promoted to commander in April 1984. 

In September 1984, Commander Hufstader reported as senior medical officer on battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62), homeported in Long Beach, California. In April 1985, Hufstader was assigned as executive officer of Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In July 1987, he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in the Clinical Professional/Healthcare Professional Implementation Group (OP-093). In August 1987, he reported to Naval Hospital Bethesda, Maryland in the medical practice group. He was promoted to captain in June 1989. 

In July 1989, Captain Hufstader assumed duty as executive officer of Naval Hospital Pensacola. In June 1991, he assumed command of Naval Hospital Keflavik, Iceland. In July 1994, he reported to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, DC, as deputy chief, Medical Corps. In June 1998, he assumed command of Naval Hospital Pensacola. (At some point, he also earned a master’s degree in medical management from Tulane University.) 

In September 2001, he was designated a rear admiral (lower half) for duty in a billet commensurate with that rank and assumed duty as senior medical officer to the Marine Corps. He was promoted to rear admiral (lower half) on 1 May 2002. In September 2004, Rear Admiral Hufstader assumed duty as command surgeon for Commander U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii. He retired on 1 February 2006. 

Rear Admiral Hufstader’s awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards); Meritorious Service Medal (two awards); Navy Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Meda;, Navy Achievement Medal; Naval Unit Commendation; Battle Efficiency Ribbon (two awards); Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal (three awards); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; and Overseas Service Ribbon. 

I have no information on what Rear Admiral Hufstader did after retirement from active duty other than that he enjoyed sailing, reading, and spending time with family, especially his grandchildren. Graveside services will be held at 1330 on Friday, 24 June 2022, in Lane 3, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida. 

From Korea to Japan, to Guantanamo Bay, to Keflavik, and many other places, Rear Admiral Hufstader provided superb medical care to U.S. Navy and Marine personnel and their families. He set the example of going wherever the detailer asked him to go. A superb leader and doctor, he set the standard of care wherever he went, culminating in serving as executive officer and commanding officer for major U.S. Navy hospitals. As the senior medical officer for the U.S. Marine Corps, he ensured that Marines received the best care even as they were going into combat once again, this time in Afghanistan and then Iraq. Even as a flag officer, his compassion was evident in a photo of him providing care to an Indonesian girl on USNS Mercy (T-AH-19), the same care he gave everyone. He no doubt was responsible for saving lives, and it’s hard to imagine a more fulfilling career than that. His legacy will live on in the Navy medical community, for which the entire Navy is grateful. 

Rest in Peace, Admiral Hufstader.