Retired Aug. 1, 1975.
Lieutenant General William Frederick Pitts is commander of Fifteenth Air Force, Strategic Air Command with headquarters at March Air Force Base, Calif. Fifteenth Air Force is responsible for Strategic Air Command operations in the Western United States and Alaska. Its mixed force of reconnaissance and bomber aircraft and missiles support the national strategic deterrence mission.
General Pitts was born at March Field, now March Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 27, 1919. He completed high school in Omaha, Neb., in June 1937, and entered the U.S. Military Academy in July 1939. During his final year at the academy, he completed the three required phases of flying training with the Army Air Corps and was awarded pilot wings prior to graduation. After graduating from the academy in 1943 as a second lieutenant, he attended the B-17 Four Engine Transition School at Hobbs, N.M., followed by combat crew training in B-17 aircraft at Pyote and Dalhart, Texas.
He returned to Pyote in August 1943, where he served as an instructor pilot for two combat crew training units. In April 1944 he was assigned as an engineering officer and pilot with the 421st Bombardment Squadron at Fairmont, Neb. He went to Tinian Island in the Marianas with this squadron where he flew 25 missions against Japan as lead crew commander in B-29s.
Upon his return to the United States in November 1945, he was assigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., where he served as deputy chief and chief of the Aircraft Distributions Branch and later as assistant chief of the Distribution and Storage Branch. He then attended the Army Language School in Washington, D.C.
In August 1949 General Pitts was assigned as assistant air attache to Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Returning to the United States in October 1952, he served as a staff intelligence officer at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. In June 1953 he was assigned as commander of the 44th Bombardment Squadron, 40th Bombardment Wing, at Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kan., and in June 1956 became chief of the Control Division for Eighth Air Force at Westover Air Force Base, Mass. He was transferred to the 100th Bombardment Wing at Pease Air Force Base, N.H., in December 1958, as director of operations and later served as deputy commander for operations and vice commander.
General Pitts then attended the National War College, Washington, D.C., and in June 1962 was named chief of the Senate Liaison Office, Office of Legislative Liaison for the secretary of the Air Force in Washington, D.C. During this assignment he attended the Advanced Management Program Course at the Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Mass.
He assumed command of the 327th Air Division, Thirteenth Air Force, Taipei, Taiwan, in July 1966, and also served as chief of the Air Force Section of the Military Advisory Group to the Republic of China. In November 1967 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as deputy director of the budget; and in March 1969 he was named director of the budget. In July 1971 General Pitts became commander of Third Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, South Ruislip Air Station, England.
In June 1972 he assumed command of Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force, NATO, Izmir, Turkey. As commander of SIXATAF he was responsible for NATO air forces in Greece and Turkey and the three-fold mission of support for the Allied counter-air campaign, provision of air defense for the Southeastern NATO region and conduct of tactical air operations in support of ground forces in the SIXATAF area of responsibility. General Pitts assumed command of Fifteenth Air Force with headquarters at March Air Force Base, Calif., in November 1972.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster. He is a command pilot.
General Pitts' hometown is Liberty, Mo.