Retired Sep. 1, 1971. Died Nov. 14, 1973.
General Jospeh Randall Holzapple is commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with headquarters at Lindsey Air Station, Wiesbaden, Germany. The geographical area of interest of USAFE is from the British Isles and Scandinavian Peninsula through Western Europe and Turkey. He also commands the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force with headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, which as an air force in NATO would during wartime direct and control Allied air operations in the defense of Western Europe.
General Holzapple was born in 1914, in Peoria, Ill., where he graduated from Bradley University in 1938 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the same university in 1958. He entered aviation cadet training in December 1940 and graduated in August 1941 with a commission as second lieutenant and his pilot wings. Subsequently he performed various flying duties at Jackson, Miss; Patterson Field, Ohio; and Barksdale Field, La.
He was ordered to the European Theater of Operations in September 1942, where he served as operations officer and then commander of the 319th Bombardment Group, Twelfth Air Force. He flew 91 combat missions in North Africa and Europe with a total of 390 combat hours primarily in B-26 aircraft. In November 1944 the 319th Group converted to B-25 aircraft and used them for approximately two months before the group returned to the United States where it was reequipped with A-26 aircraft. In May 1945 the group moved to Okinawa where it operated until August 1945. During this period, General Holzapple flew eight combat missions over Japan and mainland China, totaling 33 combat hours.
General Holzapple returned to the United States in February 1946 and was assigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., with duties in the Requirements Division of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Training and Requirements. He entered the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., in August 1949 and completed the Joint Operations Course there in January 1950. He returned to Washington, D.C., and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force for duties with the Air Force Special Weapons Project.
In September 1951 he was assigned to the Air Research and Development Command at Baltimore, Md., where he served first as the deputy for strategic air and later as assistant for operational readiness. From August 1954 to August 1955, he attended the National War College at Washington, D.C.
After graduation, General Holzapple went overseas to Sculthorpe, England, to become commander of the 47th Bombardment Wing. In October 1956 he was assigned to U.S. Air Forces in Europe with headquarters at Wiesbaden, Germany, as deputy chief of staff for operations, and later became chief of staff.
In July 1958 General Holzapple again was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, this time as deputy director for operational forces with Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. In August 1959 he was assigned to the Air Research and Development Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as assistant deputy commander for weapons systems management, and in July 1960 he became commander of Wright Air Development Division.
He was reassigned in July 1961 to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as assistant deputy chief of staff for systems and logistics. In May 1964 he became director of the Weapon Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, Department of Defense. In September 1966 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as deputy chief of staff for research and development.
General Holzapple became commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with headquarters at Lindsey Air Station, Wiesbaden, Germany, and commander of the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force with headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in January 1969. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1970.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters, and Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster. Foreign governments have bestowed upon General Holzapple the Croix de Guerre with etoile d'argent (France), the Croix de Guerre with palm (France), and the Distinguished Flying Cross (Great Britain). He is a command pilot.