Retired May 1, 1992.
Lieutenant General Vernon J. Kondra is commander of the Military Airlift Command's 21st Air Force, with headquarters at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. The 21st Air Force is responsible for all Military Airlift Command airlift operations from the Mississippi River eastward to the eastern borders of Iran and the Arabian peninsula, including Greenland, Iceland, NATO Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and South America. Within this region, more than 30,000 Military Airlift Command people and 280 airlift aircraft operate from more than 50 locations.
General Kondra was born in 1938, in Kelso, Wash. He graduated from Kelso High School in 1956 and earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Washington State University in 1961. The general completed Squadron Officer School as a distinguished graduate in 1964, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1974, Armed Forces Staff College in 1975, Air War College in 1981 and the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1985.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program and entered the Air Force in July 1961. After graduating from pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., in August 1962, he was assigned to the 8th Troop Carrier Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., flying C-124s. Upon completion of C-123 qualification training at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., General Kondra was assigned on temporary duty to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam. From September 1963 to November 1969 he flew C-124s and C-141s at McChord. During this tour of duty, he served as a co-pilot, aircraft commander, instructor pilot and wing standardization flight examiner. He then returned to Da Nang as a command post duty officer and, later, executive officer for the 617th Military Airlift Support Squadron.
In July 1970 the general was assigned to Headquarters Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., as a member of the command briefing team. From July 1972 to January 1975 he served as aide and executive officer to the MAC vice commander. He completed Armed Forces Staff College in July 1975 and returned to McChord Air Force Base as a C-141 flight commander, 4th Military Airlift Squadron. He then served as operations officer with the 8th Military Airlift Squadron. In February 1977, while at McChord, General Kondra became chief of the command post, 62nd Military Airlift Wing. He assumed command of the 8th Military Airlift Squadron in April 1978. His next assignments were as assistant deputy commander and, then, deputy commander of operations, 62nd Military Airlift Wing, until August 1980.
He completed Air War College in May 1981 and was assigned as assistant director for forces and then as chief of the Mobility Forces Division, Directorate of Programs and Evaluations, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Resources, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. From June 1983 to March 1984 he served as vice commander, 63rd Military Airlift Wing, Norton Air Force Base, Calif. He then became commander of the 62nd Military Airlift Wing, McChord Air Force Base. In June 1986, he was assigned as deputy director for operations, National Military Command Center, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C.
In August 1987 he assumed command of the 834th Airlift Division, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He also served as special assistant for airlift to the commander in chief, Pacific Air Forces, and played an airlift liaison role to the commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command. He was assigned as deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, Military Airlift Command headquarters, in July 1989, and in August 1990 he became deputy chief of staff for operations, responsible for directing the airlift operations for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He assumed his present command in July 1991.
The general is a command pilot with more than 7,000 flying hours. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with five service stars, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with five oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He also was awarded the MAC Order of the Sword.
He was promoted to lieutenant general July 17,1991, with same date of rank.