Retired Oct. 1, 1991.
Major General Richard A. "Tony" Pierson is commander, 1st Air Force, Tactical Air Command, and commander of the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Region, with consolidated headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va. First Air Force provides combat-ready forces for the air defense of North America and Iceland.
General Pierson was born in 1934, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and graduated from Oak Bluffs (Mass.) High School in 1952. He graduated cum laude from the University of Omaha in 1965 with a bachelor of science degree and received a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Troy State University in 1975. The general was a distinguished graduate of Air War College in 1975.
He entered the aviation cadet program in December 1955 and, upon graduation as a distinguished graduate, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in April 1957. After F-86 gunnery school at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., General Pierson was assigned as an F-86 pilot with the 311th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea, from November 1957 to October 1958.
Upon his return to the United States, General Pierson attended weapons controller school at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. After graduating in December 1958, he served as a weapons controller with the 963rd Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron at McClellan Air Force Base, Calif. In May 1960 he transferred to Langerkoph Air Station, West Germany, as a weapons controller and air surveillance officer with the 603rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. From March 1961 until July 1964 he served as aide-de-camp to the commander of the 86th Air Division at Ramstein Air Base, West Germany. He returned to the United States to attend the University of Omaha and, after graduating in March 1965, returned to Williams Air Force Base. While there he served as a T-38 instructor pilot and flight safety officer with the 3525th Pilot Training Wing.
In February 1969 he started training in F-4s with the 46th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Six months later he was assigned to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where he was commander of the Wolf Facs, performing visual reconnaissance and strike control in high-threat areas. He accumulated more than 500 combat hours in F-4s during his tour of duty with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. From October 1970 until August 1974 General Pierson was stationed at Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, first as chief of flight safety, statistics and analysis, and later as chief of command policy.
After completing Air War College in July 1975, the general transferred to Reese Air Force Base, Texas, where he served initially as assistant deputy commander for maintenance with the 64th Flying Training Wing, and then as deputy commander for maintenance until August 1978. He then was assigned to Williams Air Force Base as commander of the 82nd Air Base Group. In June 1980 he became commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. One year later he was assigned as commandant of Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
In June 1982 General Pierson assumed command of Tactical Air Command's 26th Air Division and the North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. He continued in that position when the unit moved to March Air Force Base, Calif., in December 1983. In May 1985 he was assigned as commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Defense Weapons Center, Tyndall Air Force Base. The general transferred to Athens, Greece, in August 1986 as chief of the Joint U.S. Military Aid Group to Greece. He assumed his present position in July 1988.
The general is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours in F-4s, F-15s, F-86s, F-106s, T-33s, T-38s and T-39s. His military decorations and awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" device and three oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with three oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to major general July 1, 1986, with same date of rank.