Retired April 1, 1986.
Brigadier General Albert L. Pruden Jr. is director of aerospace safety, Headquarters Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, Calif.
General Pruden was born in 1934, in Rolesville, N.C. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1955. The general received a master of arts degree in business management from New Mexico Highlands University in 1977. He is a graduate of Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1966 and Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1973.
Beginning his career with pilot training at Kinston Air Base, N.C., and Greenville Air Force Base, Miss., General Pruden received his wings and was assigned to Perrin Air Force Base, Texas, for F-86D interceptor training in May 1956. He joined the Air Defense Command in April 1957 and was assigned to the 317th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., flying F-102 Delta Daggers. He later moved with the squadron to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. In April 1959 General Pruden joined the 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich., and began flying F-106 Delta Darts. During this assignment he completed Instrument Pilot Instructor School and Interceptor Weapons School.
From September 1962 to August 1965, he served as an F-106 instructor pilot and weapons systems instructor at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. While there General Pruden assisted in forming the Combat Crew Training Squadron, was selected to conduct high-altitude tests in F-106s and began efforts which led to the 20mm cannon being added to the F-106 armament system.
Following graduation from Air Command and Staff College in July 1966 and F-4 transition training at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., General Pruden was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing "Gunfighters" at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, from December 1966 to August 1967. While in Southeast Asia, he flew 140 combat missions in F-4C's, including 100 missions over North Vietnam.
Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned to the F-4 System Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He later served as deputy director of the F-4E Operational Test and Evaluation Program and led development of the modified cockpit switchology incorporated in present-day F-4E's. He was also actively involved in developing and testing the Target Identification System Electro-Optical and leading edge slats for the aircraft.
In July 1970 he become a member of the Joint Strategic Integrated Planning Staff, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. General Pruden returned for a second tour of duty in Southeast Asia in February 1973. He was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as operations officer for the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron and later commanded the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron. At the end of the Vietnam conflict, he had flown 233 combat sorties in F-4C's, D's and E's.
He returned to the United States in 1974 and served at the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., where he managed the F-15 operational test and evaluation and was chief of the Fighter Branch.
Moving in April 1977 to the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Camp New Amsterdam, Netherlands, General Pruden served initially as vice commander. He assumed command of the squadron in January 1978 and led the unit's transition from F-4E's to F-15s. The squadron was later awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Hughes Trophy for this period. On departing that assignment in November 1979, General Pruden was awarded the Commandeur de Orde van Oranje-Nassau, met de Zwaarden (Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau, with Swords) by the Queen of the Netherlands.
From November 1979 to May 1980, General Pruden was vice commander of the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing, Hahn Air Base, Germany. He took command of the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Zweibrucken Air Base, Germany, in May 1980. Under his command the wing integrated improved production and prototype all-weather, near real time reconnaissance systems into its operational mission. In February 1982 General Pruden became the director of inspection at the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center. He assumed his present duties in July 1984.
The general is a command pilot with more than 4,800 flying hours in fighter aircraft. He has flown F-86D's; F-102s; F-106s; F-4C's, D's and E's; RF-4C's; F-15s; and F-16s. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters and Joint Service Commendation Medal.
He was promoted to brigadier general Sept. 1, 1982, with same date of rank.
General Pruden's hometown is Rolesville, N.C.