Retired Sep. 1, 1986.
Major General Gerald L. Prather is commander of the Air Force Communications Command, with headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. As a major command, Air Force Communications Command engineers, installs, operates and maintains communications-electronics-meteorological equipment and facilities for the Air Force and selected government and civilian agencies. This encompasses information systems, including long-haul intercontinental, local base and command and control communications, air traffic control and navigational aid facilities, weather equipment and Air Force standardized data automation processing activities.
General Prather was born in 1935, in LaGrange, Ga., and graduated from LaGrange High School in 1953. He received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Auburn (Ala.) University, and a master of science degree in logistics management from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He completed Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1963 and the advanced management program at the University of Houston in 1978.
The general enlisted in the Air Force in August 1954. He completed the aviation cadet program as a distinguished graduate, and received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in August 1956.
After completing F-84F combat crew training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in December 1956, General Prather was assigned as a pilot to the 390th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at England Air Force Base, La. While there he flew F-100D's and was an operations training officer in the 834th Air Division.
Following B-52 combat crew training at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., in 1959, he was assigned to the 72nd Bombardment Squadron at Mather Air Force Base, Calif., as a B-52 pilot and later as an instructor pilot and aircraft commander of a lead and select B-52F crew. In 1965 General Prather entered the Air Force Institute of Technology.
The general completed C-130E combat crew training at Sewart Air Force Base, Tenn., advanced combat crew training at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., and was assigned as a C-130 pilot with the 772nd Troop Carrier Squadron at Mactan Isle Airfield, Philippines, in 1967. From there he flew more than 500 combat support missions in Southeast Asia.
In July 1968 General Prather was assigned to the Air Force Communications Service as commander of the 1963rd Communications Squadron, Chanute Air Force Base, Ill. In July 1969, he became the commander of the 1918th Communications Squadron at Scott Air Force Base. From December 1970 to February 1972, General Prather attended the School of Systems and Logistics at the Air Force Institute of Technology.
He was assigned in 1972 to Headquarters 15th Air Force at March Air Force Base, Calif., as deputy director of communications-electronics. In October 1972 he transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in the Directorate of Command, Control and Communications, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Resources. He became the director of communications-electronics, deputy chief of staff, operations, Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in July 1975 and in July 1976 General Prather became the first commander of the Strategic Communications Area for Air Force Communications Service.
The general became commander, European Communications Area, Kapaun Air Station, Germany, in August 1977. He also served as the deputy chief of staff, communications and air traffic control for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. In August 1980 he was assigned to U.S. Readiness Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., as director of communications-electronics and in May 1981 became the first director of the command's newly formed Directorate of Command, Control and Communications Systems. In June 1981 General Prather returned to Air Force headquarters as director of command and control, and telecommunications, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations. The general was named assistant chief of staff, information systems, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in June 1983 and assumed his present command in June 1984.
General Prather is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours and has been awarded Parachutist and Missile badges. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force and Marine Presidential Unit Citation Emblems, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with oak leaf cluster and Air Force Organizational Excellence Award Ribbon.
He was promoted to major general March 1, 1983, with date of rank July 1, 1979.