Retired Sep. 1, 1975. Died Oct. 6, 1983.
Major General Richard G. Cross Jr., is commander of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center, a separate operating agency, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. AFTEC is responsible for managing the Air Force operational test and evaluation program and providing independent assessments of the military utility and operational effectiveness and suitability of Air Force weapon systems.
General Cross was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1920. He attended the University of Maryland 1949-1952; Eastern Michigan University, 1962-1963; and Port Huron College, Mich., 1964; and graduated from the National War College, 1966.
He began his military career in June 1941 as a soldier with the 1st Infantry Regiment of the 6th Division at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. In November 1942 he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet and in October 1943 graduated from training at Moore Field, Texas, with a commission as a second lieutenant and his pilot wings.
During World War II, General Cross was a P-51 fighter aircraft pilot based in England, flying escort and tactical missions. During one of these missions, he shot down two enemy planes and earned the Silver Star. He is also credited with the destruction of one other aircraft and shared in the destruction of another. He took part in the D-Day invasion.
After World War II and until 1949, he served successively with the 379th Fighter Group, 362d Fighter Group, 20th Tactical Fighter Group, and 1st Fighter Wing at various air bases in the United States. He flew with a P-51 aircraft aerobatic team for six months during 1945-1946. In 1946 he flew his first P-80 aircraft.
From February 1949 to April 1952, General Cross served as a fighter pilot and maintenance officer with the 23d Tactical Fighter Squadron at Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany. During the latter part of that tour of duty, he was also an adviser to the Belgian Air Force, helping to train pilots and establish maintenance and supply systems for the F-84 aircraft.
His Air Defense Command assignments began in April 1952 when he went to Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich., and was assigned as operations officer for the 61st Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 4708th Defense Wing. In November 1952 he became commander of the squadron. He was transferred to Youngstown Municipal Airport, Ohio, in December 1952, and assumed command of the 86th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
In May 1955 General Cross was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., as a staff officer in the Directorate of Operations. He entered the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va., in September 1958. From February 1959 to June 1962, he was assigned as chief of the Operations Division of the Operational Readiness Inspection Team, Pacific Air Forces, at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. In July 1962 he returned to Air Defense Command and Selfridge Air Force Base to serve for three years as commander of the 94th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. He then attended the National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
General Cross went to Spain in July 1966 as assistant deputy commander for operations, 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, at Torrejon Air Base. In July 1967 he was transferred to Lindsey Air Station, Germany, as chief of the Operational Readiness Inspection Team for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. He became commander of the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, in May 1968.
General Cross was transferred to Headquarters Aerospace Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colo., in July 1969, as assistant deputy chief of staff, operations, and in March 1970 assumed duties as command inspector general. He became commander of the 26th North American Air Defense Region and the 26th Air Division at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in August 1970.
In December 1971 General Cross was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as assistant deputy chief of staff, operations, Seventh Air Force, in June 1972 was assigned additional duties as chief, air operations, Military Assistance Command Vietnam. During this period, he flew 67 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
In January 1973 General Cross was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, as deputy director of plans for force development; in April 1973 became deputy director of plans. In June 1973 he joined the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research and Development, as director of operational requirements and development plans.
In August 1974 General Cross became commander of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order, 1st Class. He is a command pilot with more than 6,000 hours flying time with more than 4,000 hours in jet fighter aircraft. He has flown P-40, P-47, P-51, F-80, F-84, F-94, F-100, F-102, F-106, and F-4 aircraft.
He was promoted to the grade of major general effective April 12, 1973, with date of rank Aug. 1, 1969.