Retired July 1, 1990.
Brigadier General W. John Soper is deputy chief of staff, logistics, Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
General Soper was born in 1935, in Windham, N.Y. He graduated from high school in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1953 and attended Palm Beach Junior College for one year. He earned a bachelor's degree in military science from the U.S. Military Academy in 1958. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1962, Armed Forces Staff College in 1970 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1976. He was designated a senior executive fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 1983.
Upon graduation from the academy, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. The general began primary pilot training in August 1958 at Barstow Air Base, Fla. He completed basic training at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, and received his wings in September 1959. After survival training at Stead Air Force Base, Nev., he attended B-47 Combat Crew Training School at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. In January 1960 he was assigned to the 379th Bombardment Wing, Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., as a B-47 co-pilot. He was selected for the B-52 program in March 1961 and completed combat crew training in October 1961 at Castle Air Force Base, Calif. General Soper was assigned to the 4136th Strategic Wing, later the 450th Bombardment Wing, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., from April 1962 until December 1967. During this time he became a B-52H aircraft commander and instructor pilot.
In December 1967 General Soper was selected as a pilot for a research and development program with the 4200th Support Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, Calif. After attending the Armed Forces Staff College, he was assigned to the 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing, Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, as a C-7A Caribou pilot. During this tour of duty, he flew 65 combat missions as an aircraft commander and instructor pilot, in addition to serving as wing chief of training and wing chief of tactical operations. Upon his return to the United States in September 1971, General Soper was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as a programs officer in the Bases and Units Division, Plans Directorate. In January 1972 he was selected as an air attache to Laos and assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., where he attended the Defense Intelligence School and the Foreign Service Institute before departing for Laos in May 1973. While in Southeast Asia, he flew C-47s and U-21A's.
Returning to the United States in May 1975, General Soper was assigned as squadron commander, 9th Organizational Maintenance Squadron, at Beale. In March 1979 he was assigned to the 28th Bombardment Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., first as assistant deputy commander for maintenance and later as deputy commander for maintenance. He became deputy commander for operations in August 1980 and in July 1981 assumed the position of vice wing commander. The general served as commander of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Offutt from March 1982 to November 1982. He then was assigned to SAC headquarters as assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics. The general became commander of the 47th Air Division, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., in July 1984. In September 1986 he was assigned to the San Antonio Air Logistics Center, Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, as vice commander. He assumed his present duties in October 1988.
General Soper is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, and Air Force Commendation Medal.
He was promoted to brigadier general Sept. 1, 1985, with same date of rank.