Retired March 31, 1972. Died June 28, 2000.
Major General Russell Kurtz Pierce Jr., is commander of the global Air Weather Service which is responsible for a worldwide network of weather and environmental support facilities for U.S. Air Force and Army units at all echelons. In addition to traditional weather support, his command forecasts solar flares and proton showers, performs aerial reconnaissance of hurricanes and typhoons and carries out atmospheric sampling for the Department of Defense.
General Pierce was born in Fremont, Neb., in 1921. After graduation from Fremont High School in 1939, he entered Midland College in Fremont, where he majored in chemistry and mathematics. He entered the Army Air Corps in August 1941 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in March 1942, at Mather Field, Calif.
During World War II, General Pierce served with the 98th Bombardment Group in Palestine and the Middle East as a B-24 aircraft pilot and flew on 33 missions with a total of 308 combat flying hours. For his wartime service he was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with oak leaf cluster.
In April 1943 he was assigned as a B-24 aircraft instructor pilot at Casper, Wyo., and in early 1944 he was assigned as section commander and director of flying training in B-29 aircraft at air bases in Nebraska and New Mexico. He attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1946, and the Weather Officers School at Chanute Air Force Base, Ill., in 1947. In June 1947 he went to Lowry Field, Colo., and served as station weather officer until August 1948 when he became commander of the 19th Weather Squadron.
General Pierce again went overseas in May 1951 to Tripoli, Libya, as commander of the 29th Weather Squadron. He returned to the United States in 1953 and was assigned as operations officer for the 1st Weather Group (now 3rd Weather Wing) at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. In June 1954 he became commander of the 3rd Weather Group (now 4th Weather Wing) at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., which supported the Air Defense Command and the North American Air Defense Command.
After his graduation from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in July 1959, General Pierce became commander of the 10th Weather Group at Fuchu Air Station, Japan. In October 1960, upon inactivation of the 10th Weather Group, he became commander of the Advanced Echelon of the 1st Weather Wing at Fuchu.
In July 1961 General Pierce returned to the United States to be deputy commander of the 3rd Weather Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., which provided weather support to the Strategic Air Command. In July 1963 he assumed command of the 3rd Weather Wing. In October 1965 General Pierce, after 18 years in the weather service, assumed command of the Air Weather Service of the Military Airlift Command with headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The Air Weather Service also supports the U.S. Army.
General Pierce is a command pilot and a professional member and councilor of the American Meteorological Society. His military decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon.
His hometown is Fremont, Neb.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of major general effective March 1, 1969, with date of rank of Dec. 13, 1964.