Retired April 1, 1977.
Major General John W. Burkhart is deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
General Burkhart was born in Connellsville, Pa., in 1922. He graduated from Monessen Public High School in 1940 and later attended West Virginia Wesleyan College. In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and entered the aviation cadet program in 1943. He completed pilot training in August 1944 and received his pilot wings and commission as second lieutenant.
He then served tours of duty as aircraft commander, operations officer and fighter pilot, and flew P-51 aircraft with the 431st Fighter Squadron in Korea. He was relieved from active military service in 1947.
During the Korean War in May 1951, General Burkhart returned to active duty and served as a B-29 aircraft commander with the 52d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Lake Charles Air Force Base, La. In June 1952 he went to Korea and was assigned to the 307th Bombardment Wing. He is credited with 30 combat missions. In December 1952 he returned to the United States for pilot-observer training.
From March 1954 to August 1958, General Burkhart served at Lockbourne (now Rickenbacker) Air Force Base, Ohio, as an RB-47 aircraft commander and operations officer for the 352d Bombardment Squadron. In November 1959, he was transferred to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., where he was assigned to the 4137th Strategic Wing as a B-52 squadron operations officer; in May 1960 became operations officer for the 342d Bombardment Squadron, and in October 1962 assumed command of the squadron. He became chief, Operations Training Division of the 465th Bombardment Wing in March 1964.
General Burkhart entered the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in August 1965. After graduation in June 1966, he was assigned as operations staff officer in the National Military Command Center, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. His next assignment was in July 1968 as deputy commander for operations, 7th Bombardment Wing, Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. From July 1969 to February 1970, he served as vice commander of the 2d Bombardment Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
He commanded the 379th Bombardment Wing at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich., from February 1970 to July 1972. Under his command, the wing received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period July 1, 1970, to June 30, 1971; won the Omaha Trophy for the best aircraft or missile organization in Strategic Air Command, and the Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command, Flying Wing of the Year Award in 1971. Other major awards included the SAC Charles D. Trail Materiel Award and the Sweeney and Martensen awards from Second Air Force.
General Burkhart was appointed commander of the 19th Air Division, SAC, at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, in August 1972. Concurrently, he served on temporary duty as the commander, 57th Air Division (Provisional), Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, from January through October 1973. During this period the 57th Air Division was responsible for the largest force of B-52s ever assembled for combat operations. General Burkhart commanded this force at the time of the signing of the Paris peace agreements ending the U.S. participation in the war in Southeast Asia, and the release of American prisoners of war.
In October 1973 General Burkhart was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff for plans, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and became deputy chief of staff for plans in July 1974. He was reassigned as deputy chief of staff for operations, in July 1975.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with three oak leaf clusters. He is a command pilot with more than 7,000 flying hours, 4,000 of which have been in multiengine jet aircraft. He has flown a variety of aircraft, including P-51, P-38, A-20, A-26, B-25, B-29, B-47, KC-135 and B-52.
His hometown is San Antonio, Texas.
He was promoted to the grade of major general effective Aug. 1, 1974, with date of rank March 1, 1972.