Retired Aug. 1, 1969.
Major General John Lewis Zoeckler is deputy chief of staff for systems, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md. He is responsible for all Air Force systems including aircraft, missiles, electronics and limited warfare such as are being developed and used in Southeast Asia.
Born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1915, General Zoeckler graduated from Davenport High School in 1932. He attended the State University of Iowa, Iowa City, for four years, where he received his commission as a second lieutenant, Infantry Reserve in 1936. He was accepted for aviation cadet training in March 1939 and graduated in November 1939 with a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and placed on active flying status, in which capacity he remains at this time as a rated command pilot.
His initial assignment was with the 24th Bombardment Squadron, 23d Composite Group, at Maxwell Field, Ala., with duties as demonstration pilot and armament officer. This group later moved to Eglin Field, Fla., establishing the Proving Ground Command, where the general was instrumental in developing techniques and equipment for low-level bombing which were used effectively during World War II.
His familiarity with these low-level techniques led to his assignment, in 1943, as operations officer for the 8th Air Support Command in England. He was operations officer with the 9th Bomber Command and Headquarters Ninth Air Force through 1944. Early in 1945 he became operations officer at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, Europe.
In April 1946 General Zoeckler was assigned as chief, Aeronautical Equipment Section, Procurement and Production Division, Headquarters Air Materiel Command. During the Korean War he was transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, where he served as deputy director for aircraft programming and acting director, procurement and production in the Office of Deputy Chief of Staff, Materiel. As chief witness for the Air Force on aircraft, missiles and related procurement for the fiscal 1954 budget, he received commendations from both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and was awarded his first Legion of Merit.
After attending the Air War College, Class of 1953-54, he was assigned in the Alaskan Theatre as commander, 5025th Maintenance Group, and later became deputy commander of Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. In 1956 he was again assigned to Headquarters Air Materiel Command as chief of the Aircraft and Missiles Division. Upon completion of the Harvard Advanced Management Program in 1958, General Zoeckler was assigned as deputy commander, Ballistic Missiles Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
In January 1961 he became director of the Atlas Program. His efforts assuring turnover of the Atlas system to the operational command, ahead of schedule and within program costs, earned him his second Legion of Merit.
General Zoeckler became commander, Western Contract Management Region, Mira Loma Air Force Station, Calif., in July 1962, and in October of the following year became deputy commander for F-111, Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He was assigned as deputy chief of staff for systems, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in September 1967.