Retired March 1, 1979.
Lieutenant General James A. Knight Jr., is vice commander of the Tactical Air Command, with headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va. TAC is the tactical fighter and reconnaissance operations, and responsible for maintaining peak combat efficiency in training air and ground crews as required for U.S. Air Force tactical forces.
General Knight was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1923. He entered the U.S. Army as a private in November 1942, completed aviation cadet pilot training and received a commission as a second lieutenant in March 1944. He then attended P-47 transition training. He has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Maryland, and is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and the National War College.
During World War II, he served in the China-Burma-India theater of operations from August 1944 to September 1945, flying P-40s, P-51s and P-47s. During this time, he was assigned to the famed First Air Commando Group, the forerunner of Tactical Air Command's Special Operations Force, which he was later to command.
Following World War II, General Knight had several operations and training assignments and in November 1948 was assigned to the 83d Fighter Squadron at Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., as a jet pilot and operations officer. In November 1949 he went to Naha Air Base, Okinawa, and served with the 51st Fighter Group. In September 1950, during the Korean War, he went with the 51st Group to Korea where he flew missions in America's first jet combat aircraft, the F-80 Shooting Star.
General Knight returned to the United States and in July 1951 joined the 3525th Pilot Training Wing at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., as an operations and training officer. He attended the Air Command and Staff College from August 1955 to July 1956.
He next was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, where he served in Legislative Liaison as deputy executive to the undersecretary of the Air Force and then as military aide to the secretary of the Air Force. During 1963-64 he attended the National War College.
In October 1964 he was assigned to the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, England, where he was the deputy commander for operations. In August 1967 he became the deputy commander for operations for the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.
General Knight entered combat duty in an Asian war for the third time in February 1968 when he was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam as vice commander of the 3d Tactical Fighter Wing at Bien Hoa Air Base. He later was appointed deputy director, Tactical Air Control Center, at Headquarters Seventh Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Airfield. During these assignments he flew close air support missions against the enemy in the F-100 Super Sabre.
In March 1969 he became vice commander of the 4453d Combat Crew Training Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and later was named commander.
In February 1971 General Knight was appointed commander of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Force, Tactical Air Command, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. In September 1972 he assumed the duty of assistant deputy chief of staff, operations for operations and training, Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., and later became the deputy chief of staff, operations.
General Knight assumed command of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Fighter Weapons Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in February 1975. He became vice commander, Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, July 1, 1977.
He is a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters; Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal; Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal and Air Service Medal; and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
General Knight was promoted to the grade of lieutenant general July 1, 1977, with date of rank June 29, 1977.