Robert Milton Byrom

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Colonel Robert M. Byrom, USAF Retired, age 87, of Massanetta Springs, Virginia, formerly of Crozet, and many previous military postings, passed to his Lord’s presence on Saturday, March 19, at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. A memorial service was held March 26 at Kyger Funeral Home in Harrisonburg. Additional funeral services were held in Arlington at Fort Meyer’s Old Post Chapel with interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

Byrom is survived by his four sons and two daughters:  Robert Randall (Tamra Anne, children Jessica, Joseph, & Jennifer) of South Lyon, MI; Laura Lee Neva (children Allen & Aimee) of Absorkee, MT; James Kevin (Xiao Yin, children Matthew, Christopher, Bobby) of Manassas, VA; Susan Marie Loose (children Sara, Emily, Becca, & Adam) of New Ulm, MN; Douglas Edward (Lisa, children Jeff, Kevin, Ethan, John) of Henderson, NC; Colonel Christopher Lee (Michelle, children Sam, Anika, Paul, Elsa of Alexandria, VA. On January 7, 1956 he married his wife, Patricia Ann (Bunton) Byrom. He was preceeded in  death by his wife (2010); his mother, Lilias Helen (Tuggle) Byrom (1972); and brother, Alfred Martin Byrom (1995).

He was born on November 26, 1928 in Atlanta, GA. He moved as a young boy to Arlington, where his love for flying was kindled when, as a young boy, his mother bought him a ticket to fly aboard the Goodyear blimp—whose pilot allowed him the thrill of taking the controls. As a young man he went to watch the U.S. Air Force Acrojets aerobatic demonstration team fly an airshow at Bolling Field, which he later, as an Air Force pilot, flew left wing and subsequently lead for. He worked steadily from 1944 to 2012 (almost 70 years)!

He completed High School GED, University of Nebraska Omaha (Bachelors), Catholic University (Law), McGill University Institute of Air and Space (Master of Law).

His military service began with the Marines (enlisted 1946-1947) and then U.S. Air Force (officer 1950-1975) retiring as full Colonel finishing a 26-year military career: Navigator (celestial), Instructor Pilot (T-33), Demonstration Team Pilot (T-33, U.S. Air Forces Europe Acrojets), Fighter Pilot (F-80 Shooting Star; and F-4 Phantom II – Vietnam, 153 combat missions), Bomber Pilot B-47 Stratojet – America’s first jet bomber; and B-58 Hustler, America’s only Mach II strategic bomber, and his favorite aircraft of his Air Force career, and he retired as Commander, Grissom Air Force Base, IN.

Between his career in the Marines and Air Force he also worked with American Grocers, rising to a position of store manager. After retiring from the Air Force, he worked as a lawyer in Charlottesville, with later specialty in aviation law and then, finally, for five years as a nearly full-time substitute teacher for Harrisonburg-area schools.

Beginning with his mother’s first driving trips into the Blue Ridge mountains with her two boys, including the first opening of Skyline Drive, Byrom developed a great love of the Blue Ridge, a love shared by his wife that resulted in their purchasing a family farm in Blackwell’s Hollow, where they built their family home and spent 30 joyous years. He later gifted 600 acres of their mountain farm to Albemarle County as the Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park for the enjoyment of all. After USAF service, he enjoyed flying as a commercial and private pilot, including commuter airline service, flying for a local parachute club, and trips as far as northern Alaska, Guatemala, and Ireland. He was actively involved with Boy Scouts and Navy Sea Cadets. He earned International and American flying records both as an Air Force and civilian pilot.

Memorial contributions may be made towards the P. A. Byrom Forest Preserve at 6610 Blackwell’s Hollow Road, Crozet, VA 22932 and Harrisonburg-area schools, or to a charity of your choice.

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