Retired Jan. 31, 1994.
Major General Lester P. Brown Jr. is commander, 1st Air Force, Air Combat Command, and commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Region, with consolidated headquarters at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. General Brown was born in Norfolk, Va. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute for two years before enlisting in the Air Force in 1959. He completed his degree requirements through the Bootstrap Program in 1965 at the University of Nebraska, graduating with a bachelor's degree in history. He earned a master's degree in public administration from Golden Gate University in 1978. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1969, Air Command and Staff College in 1976, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1978, and Air War College in 1980. The general was commissioned through the aviation cadet program in September 1960 at Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas. He then was assigned to Mather Air Force Base, Calif., for bombardier-navigator training and completed RB-66 checkout at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., before being assigned to Royal Air Force Station Alconbury, England, in November 1961.
In December 1964 he returned to the United States to attend the University of Nebraska. Upon graduation he received orders for Moody Air Force Base, Ga., where he attended pilot training from September 1965 to September 1966. General Brown then was assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., as an F-4D pilot. From April 1969 to April 1970 he flew F-4Es with the 34th and 469th Tactical Fighter squadrons, Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. During this tour he flew 184 combat missions over Southeast Asia. His next assignment took him to Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany, as an F-4D pilot with the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. In July 1972 he became chief of standardization and evaluation for the 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing and, later, served as the 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron operations officer, flying the F-4C Wild Weasel.
Upon return to the United States in June 1974 General Brown was assigned to Langley Air Force Base, Va., as a staff plans officer. In June 1977 he assumed command of the 63rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. After completing Air War College in May 1980, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as chief, Tactical Forces Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations. In June 1982 General Brown was transferred to Aviano Air Base, Italy, as commander of the 40th Tactical Group. He next commanded the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Bentwaters, England, from March 1984 to March 1986.
He returned to the United States and was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., as commander, 836th Air Division. In June 1987 he became vice commander, 12th Air Force, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas. From July 1988 until August 1990 General Brown was commander, 24th Air Division, Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y. He next was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., as deputy commander, Headquarters 9th Air Force, until September 1990, when he became commander, 9th Air Force (Rear). The general then commanded the U.S. Air Force Air Defense Weapons Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, from May 1991 until September 1991, when he assumed his present command.
The general is a command pilot with more than 5,500 flying hours in the F-4, A-10, F-15 and F-16, including 600 combat flying hours in Southeast Asia. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" device and four oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal with service star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short, Air Force Overseas Ribbon Long with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to major general May 1, 1989, with same date of rank.