Retired Aug. 1, 1969. Died Oct. 30, 1993.
Brigadier General Harmon E. Burns is deputy chief of staff for materiel, Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He is responsible for maintenance engineering, transportation, supply and services, and procurement and logistics plans programs for the command.
General Burns was born in Eddyville, Ky., in 1919. He grew up in Detroit, Mich., where he attended Southwestern High School and studied three years at Wayne State University. He entered pilot training as an aviation cadet in September 1941 and received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant at Foster Field, Texas, in April 1942.
His first assignment was as a fighter pilot flying P-40s with the 65th Fighter Squadron at Groton, Conn. He was reassigned to the 319th Fighter Squadron which entered combat in January 1943 by flying P-40s off an aircraft carrier and landing at Casablanca, North Africa. He became commander of the 319th Squadron before transitioning to P-47s and moving to Italy to finish his World War II combat tour.
After various assignments in Connecticut, Rhode Island and at Mitchel Field, N.Y., he was assigned to the Pentagon as a staff officer in the Fighter Branch, Directorate of Operational Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, where he served four years. His principal duties revolved around the development of air-to-air missiles and jet fighter aircraft such as the F-100, F-102 and F-106. He graduated from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in June 1949.
In July 1951 he was reassigned to the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing, Furstenfeldbruck, Germany, where he served as commander of the 22d Fighter-Bomber Squadron, group combat operations officer, wing operations officer and deputy group commander. During this tour of duty he flew F-84s and F-86s and in 1953 took the first permanent fighter squadron into the new base at Bitburg, Germany. In July 1954 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., where he served three years in the Tactical and Air Defense Division, Directorate of Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff, Development. He worked on development of the F-105, F-100D and F, Bomarc missile and various other elements of tactical and air defense weapon systems.
After a year at the Air War College, he entered the materiel field and served almost two years in the Air Force Logistics Command at the Sacramento Air Materiel Area, McClellan Air Force Base, Calif., as chief of field services, chief of the F-100 Weapon System Division, deputy for production, and chairman of the Modification Review Board.
In August 1960 he reported to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, for duty as commander of the Site Activation Task Force being formed to expedite construction and operational checkout of a Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile site. The site was completed ahead of schedule, and in August 1962 he was reassigned to the Pentagon as deputy director of maintenance engineering, deputy chief of staff, systems and logistics, and later became director.
General Burns assumed duties as deputy chief of staff, materiel, and deputy chief of staff, base activation, for Seventh Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in March 1967. He became assistant deputy chief of staff for materiel, Air Training Command, in September 1968, and deputy chief of staff for materiel in February 1969.
His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters. He has also been awarded the Master Missileman Badge.