Retired Feb. 1, 1981. Died Feb. 14, 2004.
Brigadier General Thomas E. Wolters is commander, U.S. Air Force Southern Air Division, Howard Air Force Base and deputy commander in chief, U.S. Southern Command, Quarry Heights, both located in the Republic of Panama. As deputy commander in chief, U.S. Southern Command, General Wolters is responsible to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for all joint military matters in Latin America. As commander of the Southern Air Division, a unit of the Tactical Air Command, he is responsible for all Air Force matters in support of the U.S. Southern Command and Latin America.
General Wolters was born in 1932, in Atchison, Kan., where he graduated from Everest Public High School in May 1950. He attended St. Benedict's College in Atchison from 1951 to 1952. The general received a bachelor of arts degree from Park College, Parkville, Mo., in 1966 and a master of science degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in May 1971. General Wolters completed Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1964 and the School of Naval Warfare at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., in 1971.
He entered the aviation cadet program in January 1953 and was commissioned in October 1953 at James Connally Air Force Base, Texas. After undergoing advanced all-weather flight training from November 1953 to June 1954, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., he served as an aircrew member in the 497th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Portland International Airport, Ore. He left Portland in December 1955 to enter pilot training at Moore Air Base, Texas. After graduation General Wolters returned to Moody Air Force Base for advanced flight training and in July 1957 was reassigned to Portland International Airport as a pilot in the 460th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. In August 1960 he transferred to the 525th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, Germany.
From August 1963 to May 1964, the general was a student at the Air Command and Staff College. Upon graduation he was assigned to the 326th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Mo. During this tour of duty he completed his bachelor's degree at Park College. While at Richards-Gebaur the general become fighter branch chief for Headquarters 10th Air Force. In January 1967 he transferred to the 434th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George Air Force Base, Calif.
General Wolters entered the F-4 Fighter Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in September 1967 and in February 1968 transferred to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. While there he served as a flight commander for the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron and weapons officer for the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing. He flew 265 F-4 combat missions. In February 1969 he returned to Bitburg Air Base as operations officer for the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron. In May 1969 he assumed command of the 525th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (later redesignated Tactical Fighter Squadron).
Following completion of the Naval War College in August 1970 he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as executive officer to the assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force. He held this position until June 1973 when he became vice commander of the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing at Nellis Air Force Base. He took command of the wing in February 1975.
He was commandant of the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base from July 1976 until June 1978, when he became director of inspection, Headquarters Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, Calif. He assumed his present command in June 1980.
The general is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours in a variety of aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation emblem and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with three oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to brigadier general Feb. 2, 1978, with date of rank Jan. 27, 1978.