Retired Sep. 30, 1973.
General Seth J. McKee is commander in chief, North American Air Defense Command, a military command consisting of United States and Canadian air defense forces with headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colo. NORAD is responsible for air defense of the North American Continent. He also serves as commander in chief, Continental Air Defense Command, the United States organization of NORAD; and as commander, U.S. Air Force Aerospace Defense Command. General McKee has operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces, and is responsible for global aerospace surveillance and warning assessment of hostile attack from space.
General McKee was born in 1916, in McGehee, Ark. Following graduation from Cape Girardeau High School, Mo., in 1934, he attended Southeast Missouri State Teachers College for three years and the University of Oklahoma for a half year. He began his military career in 1935, as a member of the Missouri National Guard, and his Air Force career as an aviation cadet in February 1938. He graduated from flight training in February 1939.
From February 1939 until January 1944, he served in operations and command positions at squadron and group levels. He then went to the European Theater of Operations and was named deputy commander of the 370th Fighter Group in England. He assumed command of the 370th Group in November 1944 and served in France, Belgium and Germany. During World War II, he logged more than 190 hours in 69 combat missions in the P-38 Lightning and is credited with destroying two enemy aircraft.
At the end of World War II, he returned to the United States and served at Boca Raton, Fla., as commander of the Army Air Forces Radar School. In January 1947 he entered the University of Oklahoma as a student officer and graduated in August 1947 with a bachelor of arts degree in government.
After graduation he was assigned to Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, March Air Force Base, Calif., where he was chief of the Operations and Training Division and later director of plans.
In July 1948 he entered Air Command and Staff School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. After graduation he served as director of the Air Force Reserve at Twelfth Air Force until April 1950.
In May 1950 he was assigned to the Air Force Section of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Rome, Italy, as chief, Technical Advisor to the Italian Air Force. He held this position until July 1951, when he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, as chief of the Training Branch, Operations and Training Division. In December 1951 he was appointed commander of the 36th Fighter Bomber Group in Europe.
In June 1953 he returned to the United States and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as staff planning officer in the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. In February 1954 he was named assistant secretary of the Air Force Council, Office of the Vice Chief of Staff.
In July 1956 General McKee was transferred to Hunter Air Force Base, Ga., as deputy commander of the 308th Bombardment Wing and in December 1956 was assigned as commander, 2d Bombardment Wing. In August 1958 he assumed command of the 823d Air Division, Homestead Air Force Base, Fla.
General McKee was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in October 1959, as deputy director of plans and later was named director of plans. In February 1964 he became commander of the 821st Strategic Aerospace Division at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
In January 1965 General McKee was reassigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., and named director of plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations. In July 1965 he was assigned duty as assistant deputy chief of staff, plans and operations for Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.
In July 1966 he was named commander of U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force with headquarters at Fuchu Air Station, Japan.
General McKee was appointed assistant vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, in Washington, D.C., in July 1968.
In August 1969 General McKee was named commander in chief of North American Air Defense Command and Continental Air Defense Command, with headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colo. In July 1973 he was assigned additional duty as commander of U.S. Aerospace Defense Command.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, Croix de Guerre with Palm (France), Croix de Guerre with Palm (Belgium), Belgium Fourragere, Order of Leopold with Palm (Belgium), First Class Order Royal Crown (Thailand), Order of Sacred Treasure, First Class (Japan), and National Security Merit, Second Class (Republic of Korea).