Military Bios

Major General Kenneth D. Burns:

Military Branch:United States Airforce
Retired July 1, 1985.  
Major General Kenneth D. Burns is deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Washington, D.C.
General Burns was born in Los Angeles in 1930 and graduated from Sweetwater High School in National City, Calif., in 1948. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 1954. In 1965 he attended the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va.
He began his service career as a tactical missile maintenance officer at Lowry Air Force Base, Colo., and transferred to Orlando Air Force Base, Fla., in March 1955. During this tour of duty, he was appointed assistant operations officer for the 11th Tactical Missile Squadron.
The general was selected for pilot training in 1956 and received his primary pilot training at Bartow Air Base, Fla. He later moved to Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, where he completed his training in T-33s. After receiving his wings in July 1957, he remained at Laredo as an instructor pilot. Two years later he was assigned to Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
In December 1960 General Burns moved to Osan Air Base, South Korea, where he served as group maintenance officer and later as chief of maintenance with the 58th Tactical Missile Group. In November 1961 he was appointed a staff officer in the Current Operations Division of the Directorate of Operations, Headquarters 5th Air Force, Fuchu Air Station, Japan.
General Burns returned to the United States in June 1963 and was assigned to the 476th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George Air Force Base, Calif., as an F-104 Starfighter flight commander. In January 1964 he led a flight of F-104s on the first Readiness Command deployment of the fighters non-stop from the west coast of the United States to Europe, landing at Moron Air Base, Spain, after 1O 1/2 hours of flying.
In April 1965 he helped organize a deployment of F-104s across the Pacific to Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan, and later to Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. While there he flew combat missions over North Vietnam in F-104s. Later that year he returned to the United States to attend the Armed Forces Staff College.
The general transferred to the Tactical Fighter Division, Directorate of Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in January 1966. He was instrumental in developing and improving blind bombing systems for tactical fighter bombers. After three years at the Pentagon, General Burns returned to George Air Force Base where he received flight transition training in F-4s.
General Burns was assigned to the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in June 1969, first as chief, Wing Standardization and Evaluation Branch, and later as commander of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Phu Cat Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. He participated in more than 200 combat missions over North and South Vietnam flying F-4D's.
He then moved to England where he spent the next five years. After attending the Royal Air Force College of Air Warfare at Royal Air Force Station Manby, Lincolnshire, from June to December 1970, he became assistant deputy commander for operations for the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, in January 1971. A succession of other important jobs in the F-111-equipped fighter wing followed, first as deputy commander for operations, then as commander of the 20th Combat Support Group in September 1972. In April of the following year he was named vice commander of the wing. In August 1974 General Burns became wing commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing.
In July 1975 General Burns moved to Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, as vice commander of the U.S. Air Force Security Service. One month later he was named commander of the globally-dispersed major command. In January 1979 he took command of The United States Logistics Group, Ankara Air Station, Turkey, and in June 1981 he become commander of 13th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Clark Air Force Base, Philippines. He assumed his present position in July 1984.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Airman's Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters and Joint Service Commendation Medal.
In October 1977 General Burns was inducted into the Order of the Sword. This honor is the highest tribute noncommissioned officers may confer upon individuals who have demonstrated the highest esteem and genuine concern for enlisted members of their command. It was the first such honor ever accorded to a member of the Security Service.
He was promoted to major general July 1, 1978, with date of rank Sept. 1, 1974.


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