Retired March 1, 1979. Died Aug. 6, 2000.
Lt. Gen. John J. Burns is deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Readiness Command, with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
General Burns was born in Jersey City, N.J., in 1924, and graduated from the Holy Family Academy, Bayonne, N.J., in 1942. He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Omaha in 1964.
He enlisted as an aviation cadet in August 1942, graduated in December 1943 with a commission as a second lieutenant and his pilot wings, and then completed training as a fighter pilot in the P-47 Thunderbolt.
From March 1944 to March 1945 during World War II, while assigned to the 371st Fighter Group in the European theater of operations, he flew 106 combat missions in the P-47 aircraft from bases in England and France. Upon his return to the United States, he became a P-47 fighter gunnery instructor at Norfolk, Va., and Wilmington, N.C.
In October 1948 General Burns was assigned to the 27th Fighter Escort Group at Kearney Air Force Base, Neb., and in March 1949 went with the group to Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, as a flight commander and later served as assistant group operations officer. In November 1950, during the Korean War, he went with the 27th Group to Korea, where he flew 102 combat missions in the F-84E Thunderjet. In July 1951 he returned to Bergstrom Air Force Base with the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing, became assistant wing operations officer, and in October 1952 returned with the wing to Japan on a rotational tour.
General Burns was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in April 1955 as fighter training and standardization officer.
In March 1957 General Burns returned to the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing at Bergstrom Air Force Base as assistant wing operations officer, and in July 1957 he became commander of the 522d Tactical Fighter Squadron, the first unit to be equipped with F-101 Voodoos. In September 1958 he went with his squadron to Okinawa for three months during the Formosa crisis.
In February 1959 General Burns was among the personnel and aircraft of the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing which joined the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at Bentwaters, England. While there, he became commander of the 91st Tactical Fighter Squadron and, later, of the 92d Tactical Fighter Squadron. He returned to the United States in February 1962 to become assistant director of operations, and later director of operations of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
In February 1964 he was reassigned to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as commander, Detachment 2, Headquarters 831st Air Division, for Category II testing of the F-4 Phantom and the F-5 Freedom Fighter. He assumed the duties of assistant director of requirements, Directorate of Operations, Tactical Air Command, at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in February 1965, and became director of requirements soon thereafter.
General Burns departed for Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in May 1967, where he served as deputy commander for operations of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, and in December 1967 became vice commander. During that tour of duty, he flew the F-4 on 132 combat missions, 80 of which were over North Vietnam.
He assumed command of the 4525th (later redesignated the 57th) Fighter Weapons Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in June 1968, and he was transferred to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in June 1969 to assume command of the 4510th Combat Crew Training Wing (later redesignated the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing).
In July 1970 General Burns was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as the deputy director for general purpose forces in the Directorate of Operational Requirements and Development Plans. In July 1972 he became the director of operational requirements and development plans. In June 1973 he was assigned to the Tactical Air Command as commander of the Twelfth Air Force at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas. In December 1973 General Burns was named as the first commander of the new Air Force Test and Evaluation Center, a separate operating agency, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and assumed that duty on Feb. 25, 1974.
General Burns assumed command of the U.S. Support Activities Group, and Seventh Air Force, with headquarters at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in September 1974. While Commander USSAG/7AF, General Burns directed the military operations required to evacuate Phnom Penh and Saigon and to recover the "Mayaguez" and its crew. He became deputy commander in chief of U.S. Forces Korea/United Nations Command Korea, in August 1975, with headquarters at Seoul, Korea.
General Burns assumed his present position in September 1977.
He is a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 33 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, Order of National Security Merit Gugseon Medal (Republic of Korea), and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
He was promoted to the grade of lieutenant general Sept. 1, 1974, with date of rank Aug. 31, 1974.