Retired Feb. 1, 1990.
Lieutenant General Richard A. Burpee is commander, 15th Air Force, March Air Force Base, Calif. Fifteenth Air Force is responsible for Strategic Air Command operations in the western United States, Alaska and the Pacific. This includes responsibility for more than half of the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile force, a major portion of SAC's bomber and tanker forces, and most of SAC's strategic reconnaissance resources.
General Burpee was born in Delton, Mich., in 1932, where he graduated from Delton High School in 1951. He received a bachelor of education degree from the University of Omaha in 1959 and a master of science degree in public administration from The George Washington University in 1965. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1962, Air Command and Staff College in 1965, National War College in 1971 and the Advanced Management School at the University of Pittsburgh in 1976.
The general entered the Air Force in December 1953. Upon graduation from flight training at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas, in March 1955, he received his pilot wings and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. From June 1955 to June 1962 General Burpee was an instructor pilot at Bryan and Reese Air Force bases, Texas. During this period he also completed Squadron Officer School. His next assignment was as an exchange officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.
The general returned to the United States in August 1964 to enter Air Command and Staff College. After graduation in 1965, he served as air operations officer and aide to the vice commander of Air Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
In January 1967 General Burpee entered the F-4 program at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., where he served as an aircraft commander. He transferred to the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967 and served at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base until September 1968 as a flight commander in the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron, with additional duty as executive officer of the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing. During this tour of duty he flew 336 missions.
Upon his return to the United States, the general was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as executive officer for the deputy director for operational test and evaluation. In August 1969 he became the aide to the Air Force vice chief of staff and remained in that position until August 1971, when he entered National War College. After graduating in June 1972, he served as an FB-111 aircraft commander at Pease Air Force Base, N.H., then became the 509th Bombardment Wing's assistant deputy commander for operations in December 1972. In August 1973 General Burpee was assigned as wing deputy commander for maintenance. He later became vice commander and, in February 1974, was named wing commander. In April 1975 the general was appointed director of training for the deputy chief of staff, operations, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. He served in that position until January 1977, then became commander of the 19th Air Division, Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. He returned to SAC headquarters in June 1979 as inspector general and, in June 1980, became deputy director for operations.
He was assigned to Air Force headquarters in February 1981 as deputy director of operations and was director of operations from July 1981 to June 1982. He then served as assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and operations. In August 1983 General Burpee became commander, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. In January 1986 he was assigned as director for operations, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. He assumed his present command in January 1988.
The general is a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal.
He was promoted to lieutenant general Jan. 1, 1986, with same date of rank.