Retired Oct. 1, 1970.
Brigadier General William E. (Bill) Gernert is deputy commander of the 22nd North American Air Defense Region with headquarters at Canadian Forces Base, North Bay, Ontario, Canada. The 22nd Region is the largest in NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian defense force charged with the air defense of North America.
General Gernert was born in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1917. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor of arts degree in 1938 and from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., with a bachelor of science degree and a commission as second lieutenant, Field Artillery, in 1942. He then entered flying school and received his pilot wings in 1943.
During World War II, he served in the Pacific area where he flew 32 missions as a B-24 aircraft squadron commander. On his final mission, July 17, 1945, he narrowly escaped death when his B-24 aircraft was badly shot up near Shanghai, China.
In 1947 following a two-year assignment in Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., he entered Ohio State University. A year later he received a master's degree in business administration. After three months training at Armco Steel Corporation, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense until 1951 with the Research and Planning Group of the Personnel Policy Board. He then was assigned to the Plans Branch of Field Command, Defense Atomic Support Agency.
He graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College in August 1955 and was assigned to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe with duty in London for one year and then in Paris where he established the SHAPE Operations Center and served as chief during the center's first two years.
In July 1958 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force where he became chief of Operations Division, Office of Assistance for Atomic Energy, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. There he was chairman of the ad hoc committee which consolidated all Air Force safety functions (ground, flying, nuclear, missile) in one office under the inspector general. In 1959 as chairman of this committee, he presented a briefing to General Curtis E. LeMay, then vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force. He recommended that a central office be established consolidating the four basic safety areas - nuclear, flying, missile and ground. This resulted in the establishment of the Directorate of Nuclear and Aerospace Safety and six years later General Gernert headed the Directorate of Nuclear Safety.
In May 1960 he was named executive to the deputy chief of staff, research and development, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. During this time, he was chairman of a committee which accomplished detailed planning for the move of the Ballistics Missile Division from Inglewood to Norton Air Force Base, Calif.
In August 1961 he entered the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., where he organized and was captain of the first squash team which defeated the National War College for the Lemnitzer Trophy.
In June 1962 General Gernert was assigned as the deputy chief of staff, Research and Development in Field Command, Defense Atomic Support Agency, Sandia Base, N.M., and in June 1962 he assumed duties as the chief of staff. He was the director of nuclear safety, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Air Force, at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M., from July 1965 to July 1967. He next served as deputy commander (Weapons and Training) for Field Command, Defense Atomic Support Agency, at Sandia Base, N.M.
In September 1969 General Gernert was named deputy commander of the 22nd North American Air Defense Region with Headquarters at Canadian Forces Base, North Bay, Ontario, Canada.
His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, and Purple Heart.
General Gernert's hometown is Bowling Green, Ohio.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of brigadier general effective July 1, 1967, with date of rank June 19, 1967.