Retired Nov. 1, 1977. Died June 17, 1996.
Major General John C. Giraudo is director, Plans and Policy, J-5, at Headquarters U.S. Readiness Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He came to USREDCOM March 1, 1975, after commanding the 17th Air Force in Germany.
General Giraudo was born in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1923, and attended high school and college there. He is a graduate of the Air Tactical School, the U.S. Air Force Instructor Pilot School, the Fighter Weapons School, Combat Operations School, Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College, and an alumnus of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Maryland.
General Giraudo entered the Air Force in 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, and was commissioned upon completing aviation cadet training in March 1943. In 32 years as a pilot and commander, General Giraudo has compiled broad and varied experience in the Air Force, including service in bomber, transport, fighter, and air defense forces, and flying 34 models of military aircraft.
He first flew B-17s and B-24s, progressing from first pilot to squadron leader before deploying to Europe in late 1943. While leading his squadron on a bombing mission over Germany, his aircraft was exploded in midair by enemy flak and fighters. He was captured and interned for a year and a half.
After World War II, as assistant director of flying at Mather Air Force Base, Calif., General Giraudo helped establish the Air Force's first triple-rated (pilot-navigator-bombardier) training course. Assigned to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., after completing the Air Tactical School in 1947 and the Instructor Pilot School in 1948, he assisted in developing the first jet all-weather instrument flying program in the T-33, and the following year joined the initial cadre of the Air Force's first all-weather jet interceptor program there, flying F-80s, F-89s, and F-94s.
After graduating from the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in 1950, flying the F-86 Sabrejet, General Giraudo was one of two Air Force officers assigned to the staff of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, during the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He returned briefly to Tyndall in 1952 before volunteering for a combat tour in Korea, where he commanded the 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st Wing. Flying the F-86, General Giraudo was credited with destroying two Soviet-built MiG-15s, probably destroying one and a half more, and damaging another. In mid-1953, on his 99th combat mission, his F-86 was destroyed by antiaircraft fire. He ejected, landing near the troops he had been attacking, and was immediately shot and captured. Neither his family nor the Air Force knew he had become a prisoner of war until he was released at Panmunjom in September 1953.
Two months later, General Giraudo assumed command of the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis, training senior U.S. Air Force and foreign students. He also led a firepower demonstration team flying the U.S. Air Force's first supersonic fighter, the F-100 Supersabre. In 1956 he went to Hawaii as senior Air Force adviser to the Hawaii Air National Guard, which in 1957 was selected as the most operationally ready Air Guard fighter unit in the United States.
General Giraudo attended the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va., in 1959, followed by assignment to the Directorate of Operations at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. After a year and a half there, he was transferred to the Directorate of Operations, J-3, on the Joint Staff, with successive responsibilities over the next two and a half years in fighter operations, combat operations, and command and control. During this tour he attended the Combat Operations School in 1961 on temporary duty. The following year he served as Special Assistant to General E.E. Partridge, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former commander in chief, North American Air Defense Command, who was recalled to active duty to examine in detail the worldwide nuclear weapons command and control system.
Following attendance at the National War College, General Giraudo was named vice wing commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe's Fighter Weapons Center at Wheelus Air Base, Libya. In 1965 he moved to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, as vice commander of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing, advancing to commander in 1966.
General Giraudo began his third consecutive overseas assignment in 1967 as commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Takhli Air Base, Thailand, the largest wing in Southeast Asia, operating F-105s, EB-66s, F-1lls, and KC-135s. He flew 100 combat missions during this tour including 77 over North Vietnam. He returned to Washington in 1968 as deputy director of legislative liaison in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, advancing to Director in 1970.
In May 1973 General Giraudo went to Germany as commander of the 17th Air Force, comprised of all U.S. tactical air units in central Europe. His NATO responsibilities included air defense of central and southern Germany. He also served as focal point for Army/Air Force matters with the U.S. 5th and 7th Army Corps and their subordinate units.
General Giraudo is a command pilot with 6,600 hours flying time, of which 643 were logged in combat. He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 17 oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with two oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to the grade of major general on Aug. 1, 1970, with date of rank Feb. 1, 1966.