Retired July 31, 1967. Died June 11, 1986.
Lieutenant General Herbert Bishop Thatcher is commander of the Air Defense Command with headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colo. The command administers, trains and equips all U.S. Air Force aerospace defense resources to defend North America, except Alaska. ADC also plans emergency use of Air National Guard resources earmarked for air defense. These combined forces are organized by ADC and made available to the commander in chief of the North American Air Defense Command.
General Thatcher was born in East Orange, N.J., in 1909, and received his secondary education at Roxbury Latin School, Boston, Mass. He was commissioned upon graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1932.
The general entered flying training in October 1935, after having served 39 months as an Army infantry officer, and in 1936 completed Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas and was transferred to the Army Air Corps. General Thatcher is a command pilot and qualified to fly both jet and conventional aircraft.
He served in reconnaissance and bomber units at Luke Field, Hawaii; Mitchel Field, N.Y; Fort Benning, Ga; Savannah Army Air Base, Ga; and MacDill Army Air Base, Fla., until he was ordered to the European Theater in September 1942. General Thatcher served as commander, first of the 323d Bomb Group and later of the 99th Combat Bomb Wing, before becoming assistant chief of staff for operations with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces in October 1945.
From October 1945 to March 1946, he served as assistant chief of staff for continental air forces at Andrews Field, Md., and later became chief of staff and deputy commander for Eleventh Air Force at Olmsted Army Air Base, Pa., until January 1947.
Returning to the Far East in February 1947, General Thatcher assumed command of the 314th Composite Wing at Headquarters Fifth Air Force and later became assistant chief of staff. When he returned to the United States in August 1949 the general became deputy for operations with Continental Air Command at Mitchel Air Force Base, N.Y., and later at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., he was deputy for operations with the Air Defense Command.
In September 1951, he assumed command of the Western Air Defense Force with Headquarters at Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., and served in that capacity until December 1951. From January 1952 until July 1956, General Thatcher served in Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., as deputy director of plans, deputy chief of staff, operations; and assistant deputy chief of staff, research and development.
He became deputy commander in chief for U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Wiesbaden, Germany in July 1956, and in April 1958 he became chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group until August of 1960. General Thatcher then returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force to serve as the Air Force member, Joint Strategic Survey Council, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until January 1961. At this time he assumed the post of special assistant to the JCS for Disarmament Affairs.
General Thatcher became chief of staff, United Nations Command with U.S. Forces in Korea in September 1961, a position he held until July 1963 when he returned to the United States to become commander of the Air Defense Command on Aug. 1, 1963.
Included among General Thatcher's awards and decorations are the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart. Foreign country awards include the British Distinguished Flying Cross, French Legion of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre with palm.