Retired Aug. 1, 1970. Died Aug. 8, 2002.
Brigadier General Fred William Vetter Jr., is commander of the 436th Military Airlift Wing, Military Airlift Command, Dover Air Force Base, Del.
General Vetter was born in 1921, in Snohomish, Wash. He graduated from Washington High School, Milwaukee, Wis., in 1938. He attended the University of Wisconsin during 1938-1941, majoring in aeronautical engineering, and holds a bachelor of arts degree in speech and languages, and a master's degree in business administration with a major in economics. He began his military career with an appointment as an aviation cadet in March 1942. After completion of flying school, at Douglas, Ariz., in 1943, he received his pilot wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant.
Early assignments included duty as an instructor pilot at Mather Field, Calif., and Ellington Field, Texas, from January 1943 to March 1945. He was then assigned overseas as operations officer of the 330th Troop Carrier Squadron.
Returning to the United States in January 1948, he was assigned to Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base, Calif., serving as Air Terminal Officer, squadron adjutant and later executive officer for the 530th Traffic Squadron. General Vetter was then given command of the first squadron of C-97 Boeing Stratocruisers, the 1266th Air Transport Squadron, and moved the unit to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in March 1949. He later served there as assistant director of traffic, 1500th Air Transport Wing, and as chief, Transportation Control Division, Headquarters Pacific Division, Military Air Transport Service. In this latter position, he played a major role in directing the Korean airlift with periods of duty in Japan and Korea. In August 1951 he assumed command of the 1268th Air Transport Squadron, Pacific Division, MATS.
He returned to the United States in July 1952 and became assistant director of operations, 1600th Air Transport Wing, Westover Air Force Base, Mass. He next served as commander of the 83rd Air Transport Squadron at Dow Air Force Base, Maine, and at Grenier Air Force Base, Manchester, N.H. This unit pioneered airlift operations in the Arctic. He entered the Air Command and Staff School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in September 1954.
After graduation in July 1955, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as personnel planning officer in the Utilization Branch, Policy Division, Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel. During this period, he was a member of the 1958 Department of Defense Military Compensation Study Group (Cordiner Committee) and designed a large number of Air Force badges and insignia including the Missile Badge, Medical Insignia, Flight Surgeon Wings, etc. He remained in that position until June 1958 when he became commander of the 585th Tactical Missile Group at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. This was the first operational U.S. surface-to-surface missile unit.
Upon his return to the United States in August 1962, he attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C. After completing the course in August 1963, General Vetter was transferred to Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he served as chief, Programs and Policy Division, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans, Headquarters Military Air Transport Service.
In October 1965 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as chief, Airlift Division, Directorate of Studies and Analysis. Nine months later he was selected for duty as Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Harold Brown, and remained in that position until August 1968 when he was assigned to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as deputy special assistant for strategic mobility. He became commander of the 436th Military Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base, Del., in March 1969.
His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Presidential Unit Citation Emblem and the Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster. The general is a command pilot with more than 7,000 flying hours and wears the Senior Missileman Badge.