Retired Aug. 1, 1973.
Maj. Gen. Fred J. Ascani is the senior Air Force member of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Deputy Director, Research and Engineering, Office of the Secretary of Defense. In this capacity, he conducts and monitors studies and analyses of national and international significance which are performed for the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as for selected elements of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
General Ascani was born in Beloit, Wis., in 1917. He graduated from Rockford High School, Rockford, Ill., in 1935, attended Beloit College for two years, and in 1937 entered the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. Upon graduation from the academy in 1941, he entered flying training and received his pilot wings in March 1942 at Foster Field, Texas.
During the next three years he served as pilot instructor; flight commander; operations officer with a tow target unit; and then as squadron commander in bombardment groups in Orlando, Fla.; Ephrata, Wash.; and MacDill, Fla.
In February 1944 while at MacDill, General Ascani commanded the 815th Bombardment Squadron, and became air inspector for the 483rd Bombardment Group when the group moved to the North African Theater of Operations. In May 1944 General Ascani was reassigned as commander of the 816th Bombardment Squadron and completed 52 combat missions with that squadron.
He returned to the United States in December 1944 and for the next five years was assigned to the Air Technical Service Command, predecessor of the U.S. Air Force Systems Command. During these years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, General Ascani served in various capacities with the command's Flight Test Division. In January 1950 he reported to the 3077th Experimental Group, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as director of Experimental Flight Test and Engineering.
As one of the Air Force Flight Test Center's test pilots, he flew approximately 50 different types of aerospace research aircraft, including the X-1; X-4; X-5; and the XF-92A, forerunner of the delta-wing F-102. He also established a new 100-kilometer closed course world's speed record of 635 mph in an F-86E aircraft at the National Air Show and was awarded the MacKay and Thompson trophies. In May 1951 he became vice commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
General Ascani attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from August 1953 to July 1954. Following graduation he was named commander of the 86th Fighter Interceptor Group at Landstuhl, Germany. In June 1955 he assumed command of the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing, stationed at Hahn, Germany, and then at Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France.
He returned to the United States in July 1957 and was assigned to the Wright Air Development Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he served as deputy chief of staff, plans and operations; in December 1958 was designated director of laboratories; and a year later, as the result of a reorganization, he was named director of systems engineering. In July 1961 he was appointed deputy commander and system program director for the B-70 Systems Program, Aeronautical Systems Division of Air Force Systems Command. In these positions he was responsible for the construction of three experimental versions of the Mach 3 aircraft.
General Ascani served as commander, Systems Engineering Group, with additional duty as deputy commander, Research and Technology Division, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from July 1964 until October 1965. He became vice commander of Fifth Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, with headquarters at Fuchu Air Station, Japan, in November 1965. He returned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in July 1967 as director of operations for Air Force Logistics Command.
General Ascani moved to the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Deputy Director, Research and Engineering, Office of the Secretary of Defense, in July 1970, as the senior Air Force member. In September 1971 General Ascani completed all requirements for a master of science degree in systems management under a program administered by the University of Southern California.
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 four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem, and Croix de Guerre with palm (France).
His hometown is Rockford, Ill.
He was promoted to the grade of major general effective Sept. 24, 1964, with date of rank April 1, 1960.