Robert Edward Haebel

July 18, 1927May 25, 2017
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Major General Robert Edward Haebel USMC, Retired

Major General Robert Edward Haebel was born in Marcus Hook, PA., 18 July 1927. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1945, earning his eagle, globe, and anchor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. He attained the rank of sergeant prior to attending and graduating from West Chester State Teachers College, class of 1951. Commissioned a Marine second lieutenant, Major General Haebel next proposed to his college sweetheart, Miss Barbara Louise Shellenberger. They were married on 1 September 1951.

Major General Haebel’s Fleet Marine Force tours include: Platoon Commander, 1st Marine Division during combat operations in the Republic of Korea (1952); Company Commander and G3 Operations Officer, 3d Marine Division (1960-1961); Staff Officer, Force Troops Atlantic (2d Force Service Support Group), Camp Lejeune, NC (1961-1964); Division Operations Officer and Battalion Commander (3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion), 1st Marine Division during combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam (1967-1968); Plans Officer, G3 Operations and Training Officer, and Assistant Chief of Staff G-3, Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force Pacific, HI (1972-1975); Commanding Officer 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Okinawa, Japan (1975-1976); Commanding General, Force Troops Atlantic (2d Force Service Support Group), Camp Lejeune, NC (1976-1978); and Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force / 3rd Marine Division, Okinawa, Japan (1982-1984).

His multiple tours outside the Fleet Marine Force include: Marine Barracks, Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA (1954-1957); Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan, as an advisor to the Republic of China Marine Corps (1957-1959); Marine Officer Instructor, NROTC Unit, University of New Mexico (1964-1967); G3 for Operations and Training, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC (1970-1971); Director Personnel Management Division (1978-1979) and Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Headquarters Marine Corps (1979-1980); Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC (1980-1982); and Commanding General Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, CA. (1984-1987).

Major General Haebel’s military education includes: The Basic School; Amphibious Warfare School; and the Naval War College. In addition to a B.S. in Education from West Chester State Teachers College, he holds an M.A. degree in Education from the University of New Mexico, and an M.A. degree in International Affairs from George Washington University.

His personal awards and decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and gold star in lieu of a second award; Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"; Purple Heart Medal with gold star in lieu of a second award; Presidential Unit Citation; Navy Unit Commendation; Meritorious Unit Commendation; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; Korean Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; Korean Presidential Unit Citation; Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation Cross of Gallantry with Frame; United Nations Service Medal; and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device.

After 42 years in uniform Major General Haebel transitioned to civilian attire and finished his working years with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. His leadership skills were instrumental in facilitating the update and opening of numerous Public Health Centers helping countless staff and patients.

Major General Haebel passed quietly on 25 May 2017. He was preceded in death by his sons William J. Haebel (1960) and Jeffrey C. Haebel (1997). He is survived by Barbara, his bride of 65 years, daughters Deborah L. Haebel, and Lisa Haebel Holden (John), daughter-in-law Mrs. Jeffrey C. Haebel (Kim), eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A service celebrating Major General Haebel’s life will be held at the Marine Memorial Chapel, Camp Pendleton, CA, 30 June 2017.

Major General Haebel will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on September 13, 2017 at a service beginning at 11:00 AM. Please visit the Arlington National Cemetery website for additional information and instructions.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Semper Fi Fund.

Arrangements under the direction of Eternal Hills Memorial Park, Mortuary, and Crematory, Oceanside, California.


  • Memorial Service Friday, June 30, 2017


Robert Edward Haebel

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David Omalley

June 14, 2019

I was the regimental surgeon of the 4th regimental 3rd marine division on Okinawa 1982-1983.
Capt John Holden and I share many memories of Mt. Fugi, including my discovery of several of our troops having contracted " Tsutsumagushi Fever" from tick bites while on recon training at the foothills of Mt Fuji Japan.
We also endured an overnight foot of snow during our MCRES readiness training The troops were peacefully sleeping under the snow and no cold weather casualties
The march through the city of Pusan was particularly memorable as the Korean people gathered in large numbers for an emotional ceremony at the Korean war cemetary..
Capt Holden may remember calling me the "Doctor of Discipline" as I was " counseling " the troops in my office and he could hear me through the wall of our adjoining offices...
Capt Flores of3/4 battalion was married
to General Haebels assistant ..also Capt Flores...and he asked me to cure her of her morning sickness and when I did..everyone was quite relieved...!
I wanted to stay with General Haebel and then I was accepted to Flight Surgery training in Pensacola...
And General Haebel called Pensacola and told Capt Frank Dully...
" Make sure he has a Marine Corps flight instructor. Doctor O'Malley is a Marine"
I hope Capt Holden (John) keeps in touch with all the special people who shared our experiences and memories
I am so proud to be a Marine...
God bless us all.....

Kevin Murphy

February 22, 2019

I had the honor of serving as MGen. Haebel's last aide-de-camp. For those 15 months, I had the great fortune of observing why that "Marines' Marine" achieved two-star rank. I rather quickly realized why Robert was entrusted with command of the Marine Corps' most populous and mission-diverse installation: Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It was clear to me that what kept the watchful, ever-engaged, wide-ranging leader and mentor Bob Haebel operating at such a schedule-packing high tempo was a visceral sense of responsibility for ensuring that the Marines and sailors who trained at, and deployed from, Camp Pendleton were as ready as possible for whatever its was that duty might demand of them. Reflecting the general's "roots" and great affinity for young Marines, his summer of 1987 retirement ceremony took place on the troop-filled parade deck of the base's School of Infantry. And afterwards, as I sat to the general's left as Cpl. Kevin Johannes drove the three of us back to base headquarters a final time, I reflected on how richly blessed is our Corps to have had the lion-hearted Robert Edward Haebel rise invaluably through its ranks.

Jim Donegan

October 16, 2017

My name is SSGT Jim Donegan and I served with 3rd Amtrac Battalion in Vietnam. One day our C.O. Colonel Shuford told me he was headed home to the Pentagon and he wanted me to meet his replacement. He said Jim I want you to meet Lt. Colonel Robert Haebel. He shook my hand and asked where I was from. I said Philadelphia. He said really and I said no sir, some little town named Ridley Park near there. His face lit up and he said Colonel this Marine and I need to have a drink and talk. He related he grew up in nearby Marcus Hook and went to Ridley Park High School. He said he played football for Coach Wilson there and I said the coach is a friend of my dad. He was also good friends with Stub Chace who I reported to. I had been in touch with Bob by phone a year ago but lost contact. This loss is deeply personal and I apologize to the family that I did not know in time to be there. Attached is a picture of Bob at the officers shower, Marble Mountain 1968.

Ronald ritter

September 29, 2017

General Haebel's leadership qualities were without peer. In my eyes, he was a Marine's Marine. I was blessed to have back-to-back tours with General Haebel in 1983-1984 at Camp Courtney, Okinawa and while serving with the First Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton from 1984-1987.

From time-to-time I would attend General Haebel's morning staff meetings at Camp Courtney as the Assistant Third Marine Division Chaplain. On some of those occasions, I and others around the table would be treated to authentic stories from a masterful story teller. The one in particular I remember was when the general was selected to be one of the first Americans to go down into the volcano at Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. As he vividly described his descent in great detail into the lower reaches of the remaining 1944 Japanese fortifications, you imagined yourself
smelling the acrid taste of sulphur that remained a part of the interior of the mountain.

While stationed on Okinawa, I became intrigued with the idea that the nation of Japan had a day in their calendar set aside as "Children's Day." Whereas in the U.S.A. we seem to have a day set aside for every possible category, we did not have a day when we recognized and celebrated our children. When I approached the CG of CAMPEN, General Haebel, in the Spring of 1987, he listened carefully and agreed that Camp Pendleton should have its own "Children's Day." The weekend of 22 and 23 May was set aside for this observance. A number of people on his staff were identified to organize and execute this day. I assisted.

General Robert E. Haebel USMC, will be missed and remembered fondly.

Barbara and family, my deepest condolences,

CDR Ronald A. Ritter, CHC, USN (Ret)

(Former Sergeant) Veronica Scott

September 17, 2017

In 1968-69, I had the profound pleasure to serve with the then LtCol. Haebel in the G-3 office at Parris Island. I've not met a kinder or more benevolent person, as well as outstanding Marine, than was he. Anyone who served with or worked alongside General Harbel will have the fondest of memories. My most sincere condolences are extended to the entire Haebel family.

Wilson "Whip" Waters

September 12, 2017

General Haebel was the Commanding General at Parris Island in 1981 while I was a 2nd Lt Series Officer. He was the kind of CG that would ask for our opinions about recruit training because we were closest to the action and our opinions carried weight with him. For a 2nd Lt that meant everything to us to have the CG listen to our opinions. Throughout the years after that I could always seek career advice and he was never to busy to return your phone call if you happen to be passing through his area. He was an exceptional leader and didn't hesitate let me know that I was his friend. Colonel Wilson "Whip" Waters USMCR (Ret.)

Jonathan Chase

September 4, 2017

I had the distinct honor of serving under General Haebel when he commanded 2nd FSSG, CLNC in 1972 & I commanded 2nd 155mm Howitzer Battery SP FMF as a Captain soon to be promoted to Major by the General. He was the consummate Marine. We maintained contact over the years & the last contact I had with him was at Christmas 2016. RIP Marine. Until we meet again. Colonel Jon Chase (US Marine, retired)

Ron Yardley

August 1, 2017

I had the wonderful pleasure of working with Bob when I first started with the County of San Diego. Bob was blessed with the common touch, made others feel immediately comfortable, and led by example. Possessing a great sense of humor, he was quick with a quip, and carried on with humility and a twinkle in his eye. I was so sorry to hear of his passing and valued the time we shared an office together in the old Health Services building. God bless you Bob.

Jean White

July 29, 2017

I am so sad about his passing. He was the most remarkable boss I could have. A generous man and the best integrity of anyone I have known. RIP Bob.
Love to family,
Jean White (Fallbrook Ca.)

David Yorck

July 25, 2017

California Council of Military Officer Association and Sergeant Major Lee Bradley USMC Ret regret the final formation of a GREAT MUSTANG MARINE OFFICER.
Semper Fi
LtCol David Christian Yorck USMC Ret President