Retired Aug. 1, 1968.
MaJor General Neil David Van Sickle is the deputy inspector general at U.S. Air Force Headquarters, Washington , D.C. The inspector general is responsible for evaluating command mission accomplishment, the effectiveness of management, utilization of Air Force personnel and resources, and for determining the status of combat readiness within the Air Force. Additionally, he is responsible for policies and procedures concerning Air Force-wide safety programs, special investigations, counterintelligence activities and Air Force security police activities.
General Van Sickle was born in Minot, N.D., in 1915. His military career began in 1932 when he enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard. Two years later he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from USMA on June 14, 1938, and was commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry, assigned to the Fourth Cavalry, Fort Meade, S.D.
In December 1940, he was transferred to the Army Air Corps after completing flying school at Kelly Field, Texas. The general served with the Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command in the North Atlantic area early in World War II as a squadron commander and in various staff positions. In 1944 he served on the staff of the 73rd Wing on Saipan and flew 16 combat missions against Japan. At the end of the war he was deputy commander of the 497th Bombardment Group.
He served successively in diplomatic, arctic, congressional liaison and high-level budget planning, operational and training activities. These included assignments as assistant secretary of the U.S. delegation of the United Nations Military Staff Committee; director of operations, Yukon Air Division; commander, Ladd Air Force Base, Alaska; and chief of aircraft programming in Headquarters U.S. Air Force. From 1955 to 1957 he commanded the 28th Bombardment Wing (Strategic Air Command) at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
In April 1957, General Van Sickle was assigned to the United States-Taiwan Defense Command as assistant chief of staff for operations, promoted to brigadier general, and named chief of staff in October 1958. Generaliasimo Chiang Kai-shek personally awarded him the Order of the Cloud and Banner for his service during the 1958 Taiwan Straits crisis.
His next assignment was to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, where he served as assistant chief of staff for operations until 1961. He was then assigned to Mather Air Force Base, Calif., as commander of the 3535th Navigator Training Wing.
In August 1963, he moved to Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as deputy chief of staff, flying training and was promoted to the grade of major general in June 1964. On Jan. 15, 1965, he assumed command of the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service, with headquarters at Randolph Air Force Base.
In November 19669 he was assigned to Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as Air Force deputy inspector general, his present position.
The general, a command pilot, rated navigator and radar observer, has logged more than 7,000 hours' military flying in all types of aircraft. He graduated in 1949 from the Armed Forces Staff College, and in 1954 from the Air War College. He is well known in civil and military aviation for his widely read textbook "Modern Airmanship," which deals comprehensively with flying in modern aviation. First published in 1957, a third edition appeared in June 1966. He is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
General Van Sickle's decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal.