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General Ronald R. Fogleman, an international air show pilot, parachutist and veteran of two combat tours during which he flew 315 combat missions, logged 806 combat hours in fighter aircraft and was assigned to two elite “Fast-Fac” units, began flying shortly after graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1963. Following UPT at Vance AFB, Oklahoma, he returned to Vance as a T-37 instructor pilot. He quickly accrued the necessary time to be selected as a wing standardization pilot and attend Squadron Officers School while still a 1st lieutenant. Volunteering for duty in Vietnam, Fogleman transitioned to the F-100 Super Sabre at Luke AFB, Arizona in 1967-68. Initially assigned to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing in the 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Buzzards of Bien Hoa), he flew primarily strike and close air support missions. On 12 September 1968, following a scramble off of alert to strike a target deep in IV Corps, Fogleman’s aircraft took numerous hits from ground fire. He was forced to eject over an enemy stronghold deep in the U Minh forest.
After evading capture he was eventually rescued by clinging to the gun bay door of a US Army helicopter Cobra gunship while being carried twenty miles to a Special Forces camp. He was the first pilot in SEA to be rescued in this manner. In late 1968 Fogleman volunteered for duty with famous Misty FACs. This elite unit of all volunteers originated the fast forward air control program flying F-100F’s over North Vietnam and Laos to pinpoint targets for strike fighters, suppress enemy anti-aircraft sites, and provide on-scene control for search and rescue missions. He completed 80 Misty missions in April of 1969 and returned to Bien Hoa and the 510th TFS as a strike pilot. He volunteered to extend his Bien Hoa tour due to a shortage of experienced pilots and eventually completed the tour with 240 combat missions. He returned to the States and attended graduate school at Duke University earning a Masters Degree in Military History and Political Science. After a short tour of duty as a history instructor at the Air Force Academy, in 1972 Fogleman again volunteered for duty in SEA. After conversion training for the F-4 Phantom at George AFB, California, he was assigned to the 432nd Recce Wing, 4th TFS as an F-4D/E aircraft commander. During this tour he was also assigned to the 421st TFS, flew another 75 combat missions and commanded the Laredo Fast FACs. He returned to a staff job in personnel at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in 1974 and attended the Army War College in 1975-76 before returning to the cockpit in the F-4. Initially assigned to the 36 TFW, Bitburg Air Base, Germany as assistant deputy commander for operations, Fogleman entered F-15 training late in 1976. In April 1977 he led one of the flights in the historic Ready Eagle deployment which delivered a combat ready F-15 squadron to NATO at the height of the Cold War. Given the job of demonstrating the capabilities of the F-15 to friends and foes alike, Fogleman participated in numerous international air shows while maintaining combat ready status.
In 1978 he was assigned to the 32nd FS, Camp New Amsterdam, The Netherlands as the Deputy Commander for Operations with the primary responsibility to introduce the F-15 to the 2nd Tactical Air Forces. Assigned to the Pentagon in 1979, Fogleman served in the first of two assignments as a programmer. In August of 1981 he was assigned to the 388TFW at Hill AFB, Utah as Vice Wing Commander flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon. He was the first pilot in the Air Force to achieve combat ready status in both the F-15 and F-16. Reassigned to the Tactical Air Command staff as Director of Fighter Operations in 1982, he was subsequently selected to command the 56th Training Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida in March 1983. The 56th Wing was the largest F16 wing in the Air Force with 106 aircraft assigned. In August 1984, Fogleman was reassigned as the commander of the 836th Air Division at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona. While in this position he flew as an operational pilot in the A-10 and was promoted to brigadier general before being assigned to the Pentagon for his second tour as a programmer.
During this tour he was promoted major general and eventually served as the Director of Air Force Programs. In June 1990 he was selected for promotion to lieutenant general and assigned to command the 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea with additional duty as the Deputy Commander US Forces, Korea and Commander of the Air Component Command of the Combined Forces Command. As the air component commander he had the responsibility for building the air campaign plan to repel a North Korean invasion of the South. He maintained operational ready status in the F-16 throughout the tour. In August 1992, he was promoted to four stars and assigned as the Commander-in-Chief, United States Transportation Command and Commander of the Air Mobility Command. He flew the assigned aircraft to include: C-5, C-17, C-21, C-130, C-141, KC-10, KC135 and UH-1. In addition to actively flying in support of Somalia operations, he regained currency as a parachutist and jumped from both the C-17 and C-130.
In October 1994 Fogleman was assigned as the 15th Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as a military advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and the President. While serving as Chief he hosted the first ever world-wide conference of Air Chiefs as part of the Air Force’s 50th Anniversary celebration. He has been awarded pilot wings from the Republic of Korea, Romania and Thailand. His awards and decorations include:
- Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
- Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
- Army Distinguished Service Medal
- Navy Distinguished Service Medal
- Silver Star
- Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
- Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leak cluster
- Purple Heart
- Meritorious Service Medal
- Air Medal with 17 oak leaf clusters
- Aerial Achievement Medal
- Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
- Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars
- Order of National Security Merit, Kooksun, Republic of Korea
- Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
- Venezuelan Air Cross, First Class
- Knight Grand Cross, First Class, of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
- Grand Cordon, First Class, of Rising Sun, Japan
- Royal Order, First Class, of the Polar Star, Sweden
- Legion of Merit, System of Cooperation among American Air Forces
- Legion of Honor, with rank of Commander, France
He retired in September 1997 and lives in Durango, Colorado with his wife Miss Jane.