Retired Dec. 1, 1994.
Lieutenant General James E. Chambers is commander, 17th Air Force; commander, ATOC-3; and commander, SOC-3, Sembach Air Base, Germany.
General Chambers was born in Havana, Ill., in 1936, where he graduated from Havana High School in 1954. He earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from Bradley University in 1959. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1964, Air Command and Staff College in 1971, the National War College in 1979, and attended Harvard's School of Government Senior Manager Program in 1988.
After graduating from Bradley University, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He began flight training in July 1959 at Malden Air Force Base, Mo., and received his wings at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas. General Chambers remained there and served as an instructor pilot with the 3640th Fighter Training Wing from July 1960 to October 1964. He then was assigned as a faculty member of the Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., until July 1966, when he was transferred to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., for F-105 training.
In December 1966 General Chambers was assigned to the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as an F-105D combat pilot and flew 108 missions over North Vietnam. He returned to the United States in October 1967 and was assigned to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing, 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, as an F-105D flight commander. After completing Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, in June 1971, the general was assigned to Hurlburt Field, Fla., as a fighter operations instructor at the U.S. Air Force Air Ground Operations School.
Returning to Southeast Asia in November 1972, General Chambers served as an F-4 combat flight commander with the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron Night Owls and as chief of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing's Standardization and Evaluation Division, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. There he flew combat missions over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
In June 1974 General Chambers became an F-4E operations officer with the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Homestead Air Force Base, Fla. From September 1975 to November 1977 he was commander of the 70th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. He then was transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as assistant director for force development.
After completing National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in June 1979, General Chambers returned to Air Force headquarters as deputy assistant for Joint and National Security Council matters, Directorate of Plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Readiness. In August 1980 he was assigned to the 479th Tactical Training Wing, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., serving successively as the wing's deputy commander for operations, vice commander and commander.
From October 1982 to March 1984 he commanded the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing, also at Holloman Air Force Base. He then served as assistant deputy chief of staff for plans, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., and became assistant deputy chief of staff for operations In August 1984. In July 1985 he was assigned as deputy director for operations, Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii. In September 1987 he became deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He assumed his present duties in October 1989.
The general is a command pilot with more than 5,500 flying hours in the F-105, F-4 and F-15. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 21 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation and Combat Readiness Medal with three oak leaf clusters.