Retired May 1, 1970. Died March 21, 2005.
Lieutenant General Kenneth E. Pletcher is surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force.
General Pletcher, a native of Pacific, Mo., received his bachelor of arts degree from Central Methodist College, Fayette, Mo., and graduated with the degree of doctor of medicine, cum laude, from Washington University Medical School, St. Louis, in 1936.
Commissioned a first lieutenant, Medical Reserve, he began active duty in 1940 at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. Upon completion of the field medicine course, he was assigned as chief of the Surgical Section at Carlisle Barracks Station Hospital. In 1942 he attended the School of Aviation Medicine, thus beginning his service with the future Air Force, and was retained on the school staff to teach military medicine.
After a brief assignment in the Office of the Air Surgeon and promotion to lieutenant colonel, he was assigned overseas as deputy surgeon, First Air Division, in the Pacific Theater of Operations. In July 1946, he returned overseas as an adviser to the Central Government of China and established the first training school for aviation medicine officers at Hangchow. Upon return to the United States, he commanded the 831st Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, School of Aviation Medicine, at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
Early in 1950, he attended the Strategic Intelligence School with subsequent assignment as assistant air attache at the U.S. Embassy in London. He was the first medical officer in the Air Force to be so assigned. He also served with the air attaches from Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, and was accredited to diplomatic lists of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands. He assisted in establishing positions similar to his own in the embassies for Sweden, France, Italy and Spain to which medical officer graduates of the Strategic Intelligence School were assigned. He was promoted to the grade of colonel in 1951 and returned to the United States to become surgeon of the 19th Air Division (SAC).
In February of 1957, he was again assigned in the United Kingdom as base commander at Royal Air Force Station Burderop Park and commander of the 7505th U.S. Air Force Hospital.
He assumed direction of the Aeromedical Safety Division, Office of the Director of Flight Safety Research, in July 1959 and later became assistant for Life Sciences to the deputy inspector general for safety. In 1961 he was assigned as command surgeon of the Military Air Transport Service.
General Pletcher served as deputy surgeon general of the Air Force from December 1963 to July 1966 and then was named command surgeon of the Strategic Air Command.
In December 1967 he was appointed as surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force with concurrent promotion to lieutenant general.
General Pletcher was honored in 1969 by Washington University and the Alumni Federation for his outstanding achievements in the field of medicine and was awarded the Alumni Citation. He was named on the 1969 Sports Afield All-American Sub-Senior Skeet Team. He won the Carling Open .410 Class A Skeet Championship with 98 x 100 and fired 100 straight to win the North-South Sub-senior title.