Retired Feb. 1, 1988.
Lieutenant General James E. Light Jr. is commander, 15th Air Force, March Air Force Base, Calif.
General Light was born in 1927, in Anderson, Ind. He attended school in Lansing, Mich., where he graduated from Eastern High School in 1945. He received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State College in 1956, and a master of science degree in business administration from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1964. The general also completed Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
Enlisting in the U.S. Navy in December 1945, he served until October 1947 as a control tower operator. He attended Michigan State College from January 1948 until September 1948, when he entered the aviation cadet program. The general completed basic pilot training at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and advanced pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., in September 1949; and was assigned to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as a basic flying instructor. In October 1950 General Light began electronics training at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Upon graduation in June 1951, he was assigned to the Air Defense Command at Chandler, Minn., as an electronics officer. In January 1952 he transferred to the 601st Tactical Control Squadron in South Korea, where he served as an electronics officer until January 1953.
Upon returning to the United States, General Light requested release from active duty to attend college. He entered Michigan State College in the fall of 1953 and graduated in June 1956. He continued his education as a master's degree candidate in mathematics until he was recalled to active duty in February 1957.
The general then served as a flight commander in basic pilot training at Bryan and Webb Air Force bases, Texas. In September 1960 he participated in the T-38 test program at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. In January 1961 he moved to Randolph Air Force Base as a flight commander in the T-38 program that established the curriculum and graduated the first T-38 class in March 1962. While at Randolph he was a flight commander in the T-38 basic instructor school and in June 1963 General Light made the first T-38 trans-Atlantic crossing. During the European visit he flew in the Paris Air Show.
Following graduation from Air Command and Staff College in June 1964, General Light was assigned as assistant operations officer for the 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, flying F-100s. In July 1965 he joined the 17th Air Force Tactical Evaluation Team as chief of the Tactical Fighter Division. He moved to Torrejon Air Base, Spain, in June 1966 and served as chief of tactical evaluation for the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing.
After F-105 operational training at Nellis Air Force, Base, Nev., General Light reported to the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in August 1967. While there he served as squadron operations officer and on the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing staff as chief of the Combat Analysis Branch. He flew 100 combat missions during this tour of duty.
He was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in April 1968 as an operations staff officer in the Directorate of Flying Training. During this tour of duty, he participated in the advanced pilot training study for the period 1975 to 1990, as well as various studies in simulator application for pilot training.
Returning to Thailand in September 1970, General Light commanded the l3th Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying F-4s, at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, from November 1970 to July 1971. He then entered the Army War College and following graduation in June 1972, was assigned at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., as the 28th Bombardment Wing's deputy commander for operations. He become vice commander of the wing in May 1973 and commander in April 1974.
General Light took command of the 57th Air Division at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in April 1976. He moved to Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in October 1977, as Strategic Air Command's assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics and, in April 1979, he was named deputy chief of staff for logistics. In July 1982 he became commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. He assumed his present command in September 1983.
The general is a command pilot with more than 9,000 flying hours in more than 15 types of aircraft. He has 220 combat missions with more than 500 combat hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with six oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to lieutenant general Sept. 1, 1983, with same date of rank.