Military Bios

Major General Ernest A. Pinson:

Military Branch:United States Airforce
Retired March 1, 1973.  
Major General Ernest A. Pinson is commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology, a component of the Air University, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
A native of Henderson, Ky., General Pinson attended high school in Washington, Ind., and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry and zoology from Depauw University, Greencastle, Ind., in 1935. He received a doctorate in medical physiology from the University of Rochester, School of Medicine, Rochester, N.Y., in 1939, and completed requirements for a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, Calif., in 1948.
In 1939 General Pinson was assigned to the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright Field, Ohio, as a civilian scientist. He became a military scientist in 1942 when he accepted a direct commission as a first lieutenant in November. He remained in this assignment until 1947. During his tour there he was instrumental in the development of oxygen equipment, electrically heated flight clothing, cold weather survival gear, and several other items of flight equipment. He also performed research on the effects of high altitude flight and explosive decompression on man.
While at Wright Field, General Pinson served as chief, Vision Unit; chief, Physiology Branch; Deputy for Technical Plans; executive officer; and deputy for technical operations in the Aero Medical Laboratory.
He attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1947-1948 to pursue graduate studies in nuclear physics.
In early 1950 General Pinson was assigned as biophysics staff officer at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Here he performed research on the physiology of absorption, distribution, and excretion of tritium in man. He also measured radiation dosimetry in clouds from nuclear explosions.
In 1952 General Pinson was transferred to the Radiobiology Laboratory at the U.S. Air Force Cambridge Research Center in Massachusetts. Here, he continued his work on radiation hazards of early flight through clouds from nuclear weapons. He was director, Program 4, Operation Upshot/Knothole at Mercury, Nevada, in 1953.
He became chief of the Biophysics Division at the U.S. Air Force Special Weapons Center in 1954. While there, he directed studies on the evaluation of radiation hazards associated with the handling, use and delivery of nuclear weapons.
From December 1957 to January 1959, General Pinson was assistant deputy chief of staff and technical director, Weapons Effects Tests, Field Command, Sandia Base, N.M. While at Sandia Base, General Pinson served as technical director of all Department of Defense participation in nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and the Pacific Proving Grounds and commanded the Scientific Task Group for Operation Hardtack in the Bikini and Eniwetok Atolls.
In February 1959 he became director of the Geophysics Research Directorate at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. From May 1960 until October 1960, he was the first commander of AFCRL. From October 1960 until February 1963 General Pinson was vice commander at AFCRL. He moved to the Office of Aerospace Research as deputy commander in February 1963, and assumed command of that organization Oct. 16, 1965.
General Pinson assumed command of the Air Force Institute of Technology on Nov. 1, 1967.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldier's Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.


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