Commander Robert Edward Custer

Commander Robert Edward Custer, US Navy Ret. of Rainbow, passed away on Saturday, January 18, 2014 in Fallbrook, at age 91.  

Born September 26, 1922, in Detroit, Mich., son of George and Caroline Ann Gamstetter Custer, Robert was a member of The Greatest Generation having proudly served our country aboard aircraft carriers as a torpedo bomber pilot during WW II. 

Robert was one of 378 crew members that were rescued out of heavy seas at night, while being strafed by Japanese aircraft after the sinking of the USS Bismark Sea (CVE-95), during the battle of Iwo Jima. Cdr. Custer was known for his superb flying skills, was trained on over 24 aircraft, test flew, and instructed others in carrier landings as well as drone operation. He was active in the Navy for 23 years. His experience is online in the National WWII Memorial. Access it at 

He and his wife purchased 20 acres in Rainbow in 1961, farmed it, built a home, and were full-time residents since 1971.

Robert’s greatest joys were spending time with his family, flying, and growing fruit and nut trees.

Robert was preceded in death by his parents, brothers George and James, grandson Michael, and great grandson Ryan. He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Bernice; sister Patricia Olson; five children and their spouses: Linda (Randy) Hartman, Robert (Susie) Custer, Diana (Thomas) Raidy, David (Cindy) Custer, and John (Susan) Custer; 10 grandchildren and their spouses: Robert (Caryn), Jennifer (Scott), Jeffrey, Kristy, Stephanie (Thomas), Gregory (Sara), Robyn, Kathryn, Eric (Tamara), and Allen; and six great-grandchildren: Caralyn, Cathryn, Max, Cristyn, Amelia, and Alexander.

Services will be private. His memorial page is at

The Custer family would like to thank Country Gardens of Fallbrook and their terrific staff of caregivers for their outstanding care and compassion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.