Retired Nov. 1, 1980. Died April 25, 1997.
Maj. Gen. John W. Hepfer is commander, Ballistic Missile Office, Air Force Systems Command, Norton Air Force Base, Calif. This office has primary responsibility for the development and acquisition of the MX intercontinental ballistic missile as well as development efforts for current Minuteman and Titan intercontinental ballistic missiles.
General Hepfer was born in Waynesboro, Pa., in 1924. He received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and physics from Bridgewater College, Va., in 1950 and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1953. He also received a master of arts degree in quantitative analysis from the University of Maryland in 1966 and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School's program for management development. In June 1971 he graduated from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
General Hepfer enlisted in the Army Air Forces on July 30, 1942. After receiving his commission through the aviation cadet program, he flew 44 combat missions in the Southwest Pacific as an aircraft navigator. In 1945 he left the service to attend college.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in 1950, General Hepfer was recalled to active duty. He was assigned to combat crew training at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, until 1952 when he went to the Air Force Institute of Technology. After receiving his degree in 1953, he was assigned to the Communications and Navigation Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a project officer on the Navaho Missile Guidance and Control System.
In June 1957 he transferred to Headquarters Air Research and Development Command, Baltimore, as an assistant for bombing, navigation and missile systems. In 1958 the headquarters moved to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and in 1961 this command was merged with Air Materiel Command to become Air Force Systems Command.
From October 1962 to mid-1965, he was the program monitor for Bombing, Fire Control and Navigation Systems with the Research and Technology Division at Boiling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. In August 1965 he was assigned to the Institute for Defense Analysis, Arlington, Va.
From 1966 to mid-1967, he was with the Defense Communications Planning Group, which was a joint task force under the auspices of the Defense Communications Agency assigned with the mission of building an electronic defense barrier across the Republic of Vietnam. In June 1967 General Hepfer was transferred to the Space and Missile Systems Organization's Minuteman Systems Project Office at Norton Air Force Base, Calif. After serving as chief of guidance and control for Minuteman, he became the deputy chief of engineering for systems.
From August 1970 to June 1971, General Hepfer attended the Air War College. Then he was assigned as the assistant deputy chief of staff for systems at Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., until September 1973.
After leaving Headquarters Air Force Systems Command he commanded the Rome Air Development Center at Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y., until his assignment to Norton Air Force Base as deputy for intercontinental ballistic missiles, Space and Missile Systems Organization in January 1974. On Oct. 1, 1979 his deputate was redesignated the Ballistic Missile Office reporting directly to Headquarters Air Force Systems Command.
General Hepfer was the 1977 recipient of the Air Force Association's General Bernard A. Schriever Award in recognition of his engineering and managerial contributions to the national defense. He also received the Norman P. Hays award for contributions to the advancement of navigation in 1977 and the Astronautics Engineer Award from the National Space Club, in 1978.
He is a master navigator. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
General Hepfer was promoted to major general July 1, 1977, with date of rank May 1, 1974.