Richard Gustaf Altmann was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 28 August 1923, a native of the Borough of Queens, New York. He was a graduate of Andrew Jackson High School, St. Albans, New York, and Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He received his Master's Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University, Washington, DC.
He enlisted in the US Naval Reserve on 19 August 1942. As an Aviation Cadet (V-5), he had instruction at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Naval Air Stations, Olathe, Kansas and Corpus Christi, Texas, until July 1943. He was commissioned Ensign in the US Naval Reserve on 21 July 1943 and designated Naval Aviator. He subsequently advanced in rank to that of Rear Admiral, to date from 1 July 1972.
After receiving his commission in July 1943, he had further training at the Naval Air Stations, Jacksonville, Florida and Glenview, Illinois. In November that year he reported as an Aviator with Composite Squadron TWENTY and in April 1944 transferred to Torpedo Squadron ONE HUNDRED. From May to November 1944 he was attached to Composite Squadron THREE and as Pilot of a torpedo bomber plane was awarded the Navy Cross. The citation states in part:
"For extraordinary heroism...in action against the Japanese Fleet during the Battle off Samar, Philippine Islands, 25 October 1944...(He) obtained one hit and one near miss on an enemy battleship and, braving withering antiaircraft fire, scored four rocket hits on the vessel which caused an explosion midships. He then proceeded to strafe an enemy cruiser on which he scored two hits with his remaining rockets. Rearming at an airfield on Leyte Island, he returned to the battle and obtained two bomb hits on a Japanese heavy cruiser. By his repeated attacks he inflicted heavy damage on the enemy and at the same time diverted antiaircraft fire from other attacking planes..."
He also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four Gold Stars in lieu of similar awards for completing thirty missions against the enemy in the Marianas Islands, Palau Islands and Philippine Islands during the period 16 June to 24 October 1944. He was also entitled to the Ribbon for and facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded Task Unit SEVENTY-SEVEN Point FOUR Point THREE, of which Composite Squadron THREE was a part.
He was Assistant Engineering Officer of Torpedo Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY during the period November 1944 to August 1945 and on 12 September, that year was released from active duty. While a member of the Inactive Reserve, he was attached to Attack Squadron EIGHTY-SIX-E, New York, New York.
Returning to active duty on 15 July 1948, he joined Attack Squadron ONE-L as Aviator and Assistant Administrative Officer and in August 1949 transferred to Air Development Squadron THREE to serve as Assistant Maintenance Officer and Project Pilot until January 1950. After a period of indoctrination at the Naval Communication Station, Washington, DC, he had duty from June 1950 to March 1951 at the Armed Forces Security Agency, Washington, DC. Completing three months' instruction at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, he became a Flight Instructor at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Whiting Field, Milton, Florida, in June 1951.
He had instruction at the Combat Information Center Officers School, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois, September 1952 to March 1953, then joined Tactical Air Control Squadron TWO for duty as Personnel Officer and Assistant Operations Officer. In that assignment, he also had duty as Assistant Officer in Charge of the Mediterranean Detachment of that squadron and Air Controller on the Staff of Commander Battleship-Cruiser Force, US Atlantic Fleet. In December 1954 he transferred as Operations Officer of Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWO, then from July 1955 to September 1956 was Executive Officer of Attack Squadron THIRTY-SIX. Following indoctrination at the Naval Combat Information Center Officers School, Naval Air Station, Glenview, he served from January 1957 as Fighter Squadron Operations Officer at the Public Information Center and Personnel Officer at the Naval Combat Information Center Officers School, Naval Air Station, Glynco, Brunswick, Georgia.
Assigned in June 1960 to the Naval Air Reserve Training Unit, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia, he served as Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer and Flight Training Officer and from August 1963 to June 1964 as Active Duty Training Plans Officer on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Air Reserve Training, headquartered at the Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois. He next reported as Executive Officer of the Naval Air Station, Glenview. While there, he completed study in Business Administration and received the degree of Bachelor of Science from Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, in 1964. In August 1965 he joined the Staff of Commander Antisubmarine Warfare Force, US Atlantic Fleet, headquartered at Norfolk, Virginia, as Reserve Antisubmarine Warfare Coordinator and in March 1966 became Antisubmarine Liaison Officer. In October that year he assumed command of the Naval Air Reserve Training Unit, Naval Air Station, Norfolk.
Following instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, August 1968-June 1969, he reported as Head of the Budget Analysis and Appropriation Coordination Branch in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC. For meritorious service while attached to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal. In December 1970 he became Deputy Chief of Naval Air Reserve Training, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois and in January 1972 reported as Deputy Commander Naval Air Reserve with additional duty as Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander Naval Air Reserve, Naval Air Station, Glenview. "For exceptionally meritorious conduct...from January 1971 to February 1973..." he was awarded the Legion of Merit. The citation further states in part: "Throughout this period, Captain Altmann contributed significantly to the increased readiness, efficiency and mobilization potential of the Naval Air Reserve Force ..." On 6 March 1973 he became Deputy Director of Naval Reserve, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Gold Stars, Navy Commendation Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Rear Admiral Altmann had the China Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe Clasp; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Hour Glass Device; Naval Reserve Medal; Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation Badge and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
He enjoyed golf, baseball, basketball, and football. He was a Master Mason of Ocean Lodge #214 and a member of the Medinah Shrine.