Major Robert J. Surkein was born in New York City in 1918.
He entered the Army in 1946 and spent fifteen years as a transportation officer in the U.S. and in Europe.
From 1961 until 1985, he rendered distinguished civilian service as Director of the Transportation and Traffic Management Directorate at Joliet and at Rock Island, Illinois.
One of his major accomplishments was the development of a system called "Inventory in Motion." The use of this procedure during wartime provides a continuous flow of materiel from the United States to overseas depots while reducing stock in combat areas, thereby saving storage costs and reducing the amount of ammunition exposed to enemy attacks.
Most significantly, "Inventory in Motion" provides those responsible for control of ammunition flow with the necessary information telling them when and how to turn the control valve to provide the user with what he needs, when he needs it, and under the proper conditions.
His innovation has also been of inestimable value since the Vietnam Conflict in getting war materiel to various parts of the world on extremely short notice. Major Surkein is recognized for his contributions to enhance readiness posture, combat efficiency, and cost effectiveness.