Retired Feb. 1, 1970. Died Oct. 5, 2001.
Lieutenant General James Walter Wilson in vice commander of the Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. MAC operates the nation's global strategic airlift system -- plus air rescue, air weather, photo audiovisual, geodetic and aeromedical evacuation systems throughout the world.
General Wilson was born in Rawlins, Wyo., in 1917. He completed high school in Bowling Green, Ohio, and in July 1935 entered the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., graduating four years later. In September 1939 he entered Glenview School of Aeronautics , Ill., and in December transferred to Kelly and Randolph fields, Texas, where he completed flying training in July 1940.
He then was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group at March Field, Calif. In August 1941 he was transferred to the 47th Light Bombardment Group at Hammer Field, Fresno, Calif., and in April 1942 assumed command of the 423d Bombardment Squadron, Wendover, Utah. In September 1942 he flew with his squadron to England and was credited with his first mission against Germany during the same month. On his 14th mission over enemy territory, he was wounded, and in July 1943 returned to the United States to convalesce.
In October 1943 General Wilson was appointed director of training of the B-17 Combat Crew Training School at Ardmore Air Field, Okla. In March 1944 he was assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters, Washington, D.C., as plans officer of the 20th Bomber Command.
He returned to England in August 1944 to command the 92d Bombardment Group and finish his B-17 combat tour. He returned to the United States in October 1945.
In March 1946 he was assigned to the Research Division of the newly-created Air University at Maxwell Field, Ala., and became a student at the University in August 1947. After graduation from the Air Command and Staff College, General Wilson was assigned to the Legislative and Liaison Directorate, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, and soon became chief liaison officer to the House of Representatives.
General Wilson became deputy commander of the 305th Bombardment Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., in August 1952. A year later he was named to command the 307th Bombardment Wing at Okinawa, serving in that capacity for nine months. He then returned to the 305th Bombardment Wing as commander.
In February 1956 he was transferred to Schilling Air Force Base (formerly Smoky Hill Air Force Base), Kan., to command Strategic Air Command's 802d Air Division. He went to Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y., in March 1958 for a 15-month tour as commander of SAC's 820th Air Division. General Wilson was assigned to SAC Headquarters in July 1959 as inspector general. A year later he was appointed SAC director of materiel. In July 1964 he became deputy commander of Fifteenth Air Force, March Air Force Base, Calif.
In July 1965 General Wilson assumed command of the Thirteenth Air Force, at Clark Air Base in the Republic of the Philippines. In August 1967 he left the Southeast Asia area for assignment as vice commander of the Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
His decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, British Distinguished Flying Cross and the Chinese order of the Cloud and Banner.