Robert O. Harder has much in common with his subjects. Like Captain John Alcock he was a multi-engine (piston/propeller) pilot—as well as an instrument-rated commercial pilot. As with Lieutenant Ted Brown, he was an Air Force navigator. Like both men, he has flown heavy bomber combat missions over the ocean using dead reckoning and celestial navigation (sextant).
Harder was an Air Force ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate, commissioned in 1966 at the University of Minnesota, Duluth as a Regular Air Force Second Lieutenant. A set of slightly myopic eyes set him on a course to Mather AFB, California, where he won his Navigator wings.
He was assigned to Navigator-Bombardier (Radar) Training, which included a four-week Special Weapons (Hydrogen Bombs) School. During the Cold War, he served in the 306th Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command flying nuclear training sorties and standing Pad Alert. Harder flew 145 combat missions as a B-52D Stratofortress Navigator-Bombardier during the Vietnam/Southeast Asian War. Decorations include the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with V (Valor).
A retired retail executive and real estate investor, Harder is a freelance writer. He has authored a four-volume regional history of northern Minnesota, over a half-dozen aviation/military history articles, and five short stories—several of which won awards. This is his third published book about aviation history. He and his wife, Dee Dee, live in Chicago and at their summer cabin on Big Sandy Lake, Minnesota.