Colonel Robert Paul Wagner III (U.S.M.C Ret.)

March 21, 1951April 5, 2021

Colonel Robert Paul Wagner, III, USMC (Ret), 70, of Stafford, VA passed away at Mary Washington Hospital on Monday, April 5, 2021. He was born on March 21, 1951 in Columbus, Ohio and was a graduate of Linden-McKinley High School.

The Marine Corps has lost a family man. A true Marines’ Marine. Col Wagner quietly set the example and was mentor to many Marines who affectionately called him ‘Daddy Wags’. He was a friend to all who knew him.

Col Wagner enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1969 and served with 1st Marine Division on Hill 327 outside of Da Nang, Vietnam and with 2nd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego as a drill instructor. Following his enlistment, he attended The Ohio State University where he earned his degree in Health Education and went on to work with the Ohio Department of Health for several years. He then returned to service completing Officer Candidates School where he was named honor graduate of 112th Officer Candidate Course. Upon completion of The Basic School and Infantry Officer Course he reported to 1st Battalion 6th Marines where he served as rifle platoon and 81 mm mortar platoon commander and Weapons Company Executive Officer.

In 1982, he reported to 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force where he served as a reconnaissance platoon commander and operations officer. He then served with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division as a company commander. After completing Amphibious Warfare School in 1986 he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps as the company grade infantry officer assignments monitor. From 1988 to 1991, Col Wagner was assigned to the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division where he served on the regimental staff and with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as a company commander and as the battalion operations officer during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was the assigned to the U.S. Department of State, Office for Counterterrorism, Office of Military Affairs. In 1992 he served as a tactics instructor at the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School and was selected to attend the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

He graduated from Marine Corps Command and Staff College in 1994, where he earned a Master of Military Studies Degree. Col Wagner then reported to Special Operations Command Europe where he served from 1994 to 1997 in the Current and Contingency Operations Sections and participated in operations in the Balkans and in Africa. He then reported to 1st Marine Division where he served on the division staff prior to taking command of 2nd Battalion 1st Marines. As Commanding Officer of 2/1 and Maritime Special Purpose Force Commander he deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. In 1999, he attended the Marine Corps War College where he earned a Master’s in Strategic Studies and upon graduation was assigned to the faculty of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

From 2002 to 2004, Col Wagner served as Commanding Officer of Weapons & Field Training Battalion, MCRD San Diego. Following his command, he was assigned as Deputy Director for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps until his retirement on December 31, 2005.

Following retirement, he remained in government service as Chief Liaison Officer for the Joint Warfare Analysis Center in Dahlgren, Virginia.

His personal decoration includes a The Legion of Merit Medal w/gold star in lieu of second award, Bronze Star Medal w/V, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal w/cluster, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon.

He is survived by his loving wife, the former Linda Silness of Columbus, Ohio; daughter, Sarah Louise Oliver (Justin); three sons, Robert Evan Wagner (Neila), Eric Hutton Wagner; Thomas Augustus “Gus” Wagner; sister, Barbara Sachs; brother, Gary Bowers; two grandchildren, Leah and Henry, and ten nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held at Quantico Base Chapel on Friday, April 23, 2021 at 1:00 pm. Inurnment will be at a later date in Quantico National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in his name to

Online condolences may be sent at


23 April

Celebration of Life

1:00 pm

Quantico Base Chapel

Quantico , Virginia


Colonel Robert Paul Wagner III (U.S.M.C Ret.)

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jacob Lethin

April 22, 2021

Growing up Col Wagner always inspired a unique awe and respect even among the towering figures who inhabited our neighborhood. Quick with a joke and immensely open he also had the gravitas to put the neighborhood packs of kids in their place if needed. He seemed to inhabit an almost Hollywood character with his sky diving and Harley riding. He was one of the people that made a critical impact on my decision to follow the path towards becoming a Marine Officer.
It was good fortune then that the Wagner family was in Stafford when I made my way to TBS. Having a second family outside the gate was a godsend to me when the oppression of the barracks was too much to handle and I just needed to relax in the “Buckeye Bar”. The Wagner family always treated me like one of their own and I loved getting to spend time shooting the shit with Col Wagner in the bar when I was staying the night and talking the SC OSU rivalry. His guidance and mentoring during TBS and IOC helped mold me into a leader and gave me a rich and deep understanding of what it meant to be both an Infantry Officer and an adult. He treated me not just like the kid down the street, or a 2nd Lt talking to a Colonel, but a peer. I fondly remember the time I was lucky enough to spend with him.

Here’s to you Bob! Go Buckeyes!

Ron McFarland

April 22, 2021

I met Bob while we were both on Okinawa and we later served together as instructors at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. We bonded as Mustangs. I could tell he had a passion for showing others the way; be it in the Marine Corps way or just the way of life. Mentoring, instructing, training others to do better and accomplish the mission was part and parcel of his character. He impacted many and will be missed.
Semper Fi
Ron McFarland
Col USMC (ret)

Mike Penzo

April 21, 2021

I first met Bob in 1991 when we built our house across from him on Daventry Place. Our families grew up together, kids went to school and college together and more recently, we enjoyed each other’s company during some great martini parties. Bob was my big brother, my role model and a true friend. His humble attitude always amazed me given his success and achievements. I will miss him dearly, think of him often and continue to challenge myself to “be like Bob”. Rest In Peace my friend.

James Fullerton

April 17, 2021

Col. Wagner was a great man, great Marine, and a great mentor. He was my CO in Bravo 1/1. I've always said he played hard and worked hard. I am proud to have served with him. RIP.


April 14, 2021

Sad to learn about Col. Wagner's passing. I grew up with Bob and we graduated from Linden McKinley High School in Columbus, Ohio in 1969.
He was a great guy and we all knew he would rise to the level he did defending our country. He will be missed.
A group of us are trying to nominate Col. Wagner to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

Jeff Patterson

April 13, 2021

I just recently learned of Bob’s passing. He was a true friend and mentor to all who served with him. The Marine Corps is blessed to have many great men In its ranks and Bob was one of the very best. He worked hard and played hard. I never go skiing without thinking about him.

After a 29 Palms training exercise we went to Big Bear where he convinced me, a novice skier, at best, to accompany him down the double diamond slope bare chested. With much coaching and laughter We made it without me
Breaking a leg or either of us getting frostbit! Bob, I know the gates of Heaven are secure and Saint Peter is smiling and happy to have you aboard, but we all miss you. You will remain in our hearts until we join you at the pearly gates. S/F Jeff Patterson

Bob Kean

April 13, 2021

Bob was a great mentor to all of us in The Basic School. He earned the title of “Daddy Wagg’s” because he was oh so much older than the majority of the lieutenants! Doesn’t seem so much now!
I’m humbled and honored to have served with such an incredible Marine.
God bless and Semper fi.....

Steven Hummer

April 12, 2021

Linda and family, Sheri and I send our heartfelt sympathy and share in your sadness at the loss of Bob. Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers over this time. Our hearts and minds go back over all the wonderful times that we spent together. You all are special to us. God bless you and His healing presence be upon you during this time of remembrance. Love Sheri and Steve Hummer

Lee Busby

April 11, 2021

Wags . . . thanks for the mentoring and the memories. Meet you on the high ground, brother. S/F, Buzz

Melinda Hofstetter

April 11, 2021

My deepest condolences to Mrs. Wagner and family upon the passing of your dear husband and father. Bob and I were TBS classmates in Bravo 2-80 and both Buckeyes. May his memory be for a blessing.
Melinda Hofstetter, Major, USMC (ret.)