Notable People

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Rear Admiral Robert W. Durfey


Robert Walker Durfey is from Oak Park, Ill., where he was graduated from Oak Park High School in 1942, during World War II.  After attending Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind., for two years, and serving one year in the U.S. Naval Reserve V-12 program, he entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., with an appointment as Cadet on July 19, 1944.  He was graduated with a commission of Ensign in the Coast Guard with a B.S. Degree on June 4, 1948.

He served his earliest assignments at sea as Deck Watch Officer first in the cutter Yakutat on Atlantic ocean station patrol and search and rescue and later as Executive Officer of the tender Cowslip, both vessels based at Portland, Maine.

From June 1951 to April 1952, he served as Instructor at the Coast Guard Port Security Training Detachment at Camp Gordon, Ga.  He then returned to sea duty to become Assistant Engineer Officer on board the cutter Matagorda, operating out of Boston, Mass.

From June 1953 to August 1957, he served as Instructor at the Coast Guard Academy.  That was followed by duty as Engineer Officer on board the cutter Absecon, an ocean station vessel based at Norfolk, Va.  In April 1959, he reported to Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to serve as a Section Chief in the Naval Engineering Division for more than four years.

He served his next tour of duty as Executive Officer of the cutter Dexter out of Alameda, Cal. from August 1963 to August 1965.  During the following two years he was Chief, Search and Rescue Branch in the Office of the Commander, Western Area, San Francisco.  From there he was assigned as a student at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I. from August 1967 to June 1968.  He remained there for two years as an Instructor and as Coast Guard Liaison Officer.  While there he received his Master of Science Degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University (Newport) Center in 1968.

From July 1970 to April 1972 he commanded the Cutter Rush based at Alameda, Cal., a period which included 10 months of deployment to Viet Nam combat duty with Coast Guard Squadron III.  For that service he received the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for heroic achievement as Officer in Tactical Command of Naval and Coast Guard vessels that engaged in conflict and sank a large arms-laden enemy trawler that was attempting to infiltrate weapons to the Viet Cong and Northern Vietnamese ashore (on November 21, 1970).  He received a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Bronze Star Medal for a similar engagement on April 11, 1971, and a Gold Star in lieu of a third Bronze Star Medal covering his services for the entire period of his command of the Rush at Viet Nam from November 8, 1970 to July 2, 1971.  He was cited then for leadership and devotion to duty in guiding his vessel through 29 naval gunfire support missions, two medical civil action missions, nine coastal surveillance patrols and two naval combat engagements.  He also was cited for maintaining 100 per cent readiness during all Market Time and Seventh Fleet operational commitments.

In June 1972, Durfey returned to Headquarters to assume the duties of Chief, Military Readiness Division in the Office of Operations.

By nomination of the President on January 17, 1974, and following approval of the Senate, the then CAPT Durfey was appointed two-star flag officer to rank as Rear Admiral from July 1, 1974.  With that appointment he served for two years as Chief, Office of Personnel at Headquarters.  For that tour of duty he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

In May 1976, RADM Durfey was transferred to the post of Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, Miami, which covers activities from South Carolina to a part of the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Following is a resume of RADM Durfey's appointments in rank: Ensign, June 4, 1948; Lieutenant (jg), January 19, 1951; Lieutenant, August 27, 1952; Lieut. Commander, October 15, 1959; Commander, November 17, 1964; Captain, January 1, 1970; Rear Admiral, July 1, 1974.

RADM Durfey's campaign and service medals and ribbons include the following:  WW II American Theatre, WW II Victory; Expert Rifleman Medal; Vietnam-Bronze Star with Combat "V", gold Star in lieu of Second Bronze Star Medal (with Combat Distinguished Device), Second Gold Star in lieu of third Bronze Star Medal (with Combat Distinguishing Device), Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnamese NAvy Distinguished Service Order, 2nd Class, Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star, Task Force 115 Meritorious Unit Commendation; Meritorious Service Medal (1976).

RADM Durfey's wife is the former Sally M. of Los Angeles, Cal., who attended Mills College and graduated from Oregon State University.  They have three children, Robert W., Jr., Margaret J., and Rebecca W.

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