Retired July 31, 1966. Died Sep. 24, 2000.
General Dean Coldwell Strother is commander in chief, North American Air Defense Command, an international command consisting of United States and Canadian air defense forces. It has the aerospace defense responsibility for the entire North American Continent. The general also serves as commander in chief of the Continental Air Defense Command, the American portion of NORAD.
General Strother was born in Winfield, Kan., in 1908, graduated from Winfield High School in 1925 and attended Southwestern College, Winfield, until 1927 when he received a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Upon graduation from the academy in 1931, he attended Primary and Advanced Flying Schools at Randolph Field, Texas, and received his wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in October 1932.
Some of his assignments during the period of 1932-1942 were: operations officer at Barksdale Field, La; air mail duty at the Municipal Airport, Chicago, Ill.; instrument flying instructor at Sherman Field, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; pilot with the 72nd Bombardment Squadron, Luke Field, Hawaii; and adjutant of Randolph Field, Texas.
In July 1942, General Strother became staff fighter officer of the U.S. Army Forces in the South Pacific area, and when the Thirteenth Air Force was organized in January 1943 he was appointed chief of the Fighter Command and promoted to brigadier general in May 1943. From July to January 1944, he headed an expanded outfit, the Solomon Islands Fighter Command; the unit directed U.S. Army, Navy and Marine, and New Zealand fighters who helped turn back the Japanese threatening Australia. His work won him the Distinguished Service Medal.
General Strother flew to Italy in January 1944 to command the 306th Fighter Wing of the Fifteenth Air Force, and assumed command of the Fifteenth Fighter Command in October 1944. For his services during this time, he was awarded an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal. From Italy, he personally led a United States fighter task force to Russia to provide direct assistance for the Russian offensive in the East. During this operation, he won the Silver Star for gallantry in action.
Returning to the United States in October 1945, General Strother was assigned as commander of the West Coast Wing of the Air Training Command's Pacific Division at Hamilton Field, Calif., until August 1946 when he was selected to attend the National War College, Washington, D.C. Upon graduation from the War College in June 1947, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as chief, Military Personnel Division, DCS/PA; director military personnel, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel until March of 1951 when he assumed command of the Twelfth Air Force (U.S. Air Forces in Europe) and the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force at Wiesbaden, Germany.
In November 1953, he returned to the United States as deputy commander of the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and became commander in June 1956. In July 1958, General Strother was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as deputy chief of staff, operations until November 1962 when he was appointed as the U.S. representative to the Military Committee and Standing Group NATO. In April 1965, he assumed his present assignment as commander in chief NORAD and CONAD.
The General's decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal.