Retired Oct. 1, 1985.
Brigadier General Kenneth W. North is commander of the 24th North American Aerospace Defense Command Region at Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y. He also serves as commander, 24th Air Division, the air defense component of the Tactical Air Command. The general is responsible for air defense operations in the northeastern United States.
General North was born in 1930, in Rockville, Conn., where he graduated from high school in 1949. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Connecticut in 1953 and completed the Naval War College at Newport, R.I., in 1974.
Upon graduation from the University of Connecticut, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and was awarded his pilot wings in September 1954. Following pilot training General North served with the Air Defense Command at Truax Field, Wis., until September 1956. From there he was assigned to Itazuke Air Base, Japan, as an F-100 pilot. In January 1961 the general joined the 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., as a flight commander and later served as squadron operations officer.
He was assigned to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in May 1963 with the Command and Control Division. In October 1965 General North joined the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, as an F-105 flight commander. The unit was redesignated the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron and transferred to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in June 1966. General North flew 33 combat missions over North Vietnam before he was downed by enemy fire in August 1966. From then until his release in April 1973, General North was a prisoner of war in Hanoi, North Vietnam.
Following his return to the United States, he entered the Naval War College, graduating in May 1974. He was then assigned to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., as assistant director of operations. From February 1976 to May 1978, the general served with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, first as deputy commander for operations and then as wing vice commander.
In August 1978 General North joined the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, Torrejon Air Base, Spain, as vice commander and, in June 1979, he took command of the wing. From June 1981 to August 1982, he served as executive officer to the deputy commander in chief at Headquarters U.S. European Command, Vaihingen, Germany. General North then moved to Hancock Field, N.Y., as commander of the 21st North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and the 21st Air Division. He assumed his present command in September 1983.
The general is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours in tactical fighter aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with "V" device and two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster and several unit citations.
He was promoted to brigadier general Aug. 1, 1982, with same date of rank.