Retired Jan. 1, 1974.
Lieutenant General Thomas Kendrick McGehee is vice commander of the Aerospace Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colo. The command administers, trains and equips all U.S. Air Force aerospace defense resources to defend North America, except Alaska. ADC also supervises preparation of air defense Air National Guard resources. These combined forces are organized by ADC and made available to the commander in chief of the North American Air Defense Command.
General McGehee was born in 1915, in Greenville, Ala. He graduated from Greenville High School in 1933 and from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn, Ala., in 1937, with a commission in the Army Field Artillery Reserve.
He entered active military duty in 1937 as an artillery officer at Fort Bragg, N.C. In 1939 General McGehee entered flying school at Randolph Field, Texas. He received his pilot wings in 1940 and was subsequently assigned to Maxwell Field, Ala., and Eglin and Orlando Fields, Fla., where he performed various squadron duties.
In 1942 General McGehee served under now retired Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis E. LeMay as a squadron commander in the 305th Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force, in the European Theater of Operations. He assumed command of the group in 1943 and later was assigned to the position of assistant operations officer for the Eighth Air Force.
From July 1944 to September 1946 General McGehee commanded the Flight Test Group at Eglin Field, Fla. It was during this command that he originated the U.S. Air Force firepower demonstrations. In late 1946 the general was assigned as the first professor of air science at the University of Alabama in the newly designated Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps.
General McGehee was appointed deputy chief of staff for operations, Fourteenth Air Force, in August 1947, and held this post until entering the Armed Forces Staff College in January 1950. After completion of the service school he was assigned as chief of operations for the Armed Forces Staff College. In June 1951 he was appointed assistant secretary of the Air Force Council, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and later secretary of the council, until 1954. After attending the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1954-1955, he became the deputy chief of staff for operations, Fifth Air Force, Japan, and then chief of staff.
He returned to the United States in 1958 and began his numerous ADC assignments when he was assigned as vice commander, 31st Air Division, Minneapolis, Minn. From April 1959 to September 1960 he was commander, Grand Forks Air Defense Sector, N.D., and then commander, San Francisco Air Defense Sector, with headquarters at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
In August 1962 General McGehee was assigned to Ent Air Force Base, Colo., as director of operations, Headquarters North American Air Defense Command, and became deputy chief of staff for operations, Air Defense Command, in August 1963. He assumed command of the 29th North American Air Defense Command Region in January 1965, with headquarters at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Mo. In April 1966 General McGehee assumed additional duties as commander of the reactivated Tenth Air Force, also located at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base.
He became assistant deputy chief of staff, programs and resources, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in October 1967. In this capacity, he assisted in establishing, implementing and directing policy for: worldwide command, control and communications; aerospace programs; construction, real estate management, and real property management; and Air Force organization and manpower.
General McGehee assumed duties as commander of U.S. Forces in Japan and commander Fifth Air Force, with headquarters at Fuchu Air Station, Japan, in July 1968. In his capacity as commander, U.S. Forces in Japan, General McGehee was the senior U.S. military representative in Japan. As commander of Fifth Air Force, he was responsible for the conduct of U.S. air operations in Japan, Okinawa and the Republic of Korea.
In March 1970 General McGehee was designated commander of the Aerospace Defense Command, with headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colo. In a consolidation of the Continental Air Defense Command/ADC headquarters on July 1, 1973, General McGehee became vice commander of ADC.
A command pilot, General McGehee has more than 5,900 flying hours. In World War II he flew 179 combat hours in the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; Soldier's Medal; Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Croix de Guerre (France); National Security Medal and Order of Military Merit, Ulchi from Korea; and Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1st Class (Japan).