Retired Oct. 1, 1979.
Major General Thomas E. Clifford is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, with offices in the Pentagon. He assists in the formulation of policies and directives covering public affairs and community relations activities throughout the Department of Defense. He also manages the DOD-wide internal information program which includes the Stars and Stripes newspapers and the American Forces Radio and Television stations that serve DOD military and civilian personnel and their dependents all around the world.
General Clifford was born in Washington, D.C., in 1929. He attended school in Washington, D.C., graduating from Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in June 1945. He then entered Howard University where he majored in accounting and was a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps program. In June 1949 he graduated with cum laude honors and a bachelor of arts degree in business administration. He also completed the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program as a distinguished military graduate and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
General Clifford entered active military service in September 1949 as a supply officer in the 2225th Overseas Replacement Depot at Camp Kilmer, N.J. In August 1950 he completed the Air Tactical School (forerunner of Squadron Officer School) at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Then in November 1950 he entered pilot training at Connally Air Force Base, Waco, Texas. He earned his pilot wings in December 1951 and then received combat crew training in fighter-interceptor operations at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
In April 1952 General Clifford was assigned as an F-94 pilot in the 5th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. In June 1953 he went to the 449th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he was elevated to the position of flight commander and flew F-94 and F-89 aircraft. In January 1956 he moved to the 437th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Oxnard Air Force Base, Calif., and was again assigned as a flight commander, in F-89 aircraft. A year later he was selected as the first chief of the 27th Air Division Jet Instrument School, which he organized at Oxnard Air Force Base and commanded for two years.
In May 1959 General Clifford was assigned to the 329th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at George Air Force Base, Calif., where he served successively as flight commander, weapons training officer and assistant operations officer while flying the F-102 and F-106 aircraft. He left the squadron in June 1962 to commence in-residence graduate study of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation in June 1963 with a master of business administration degree in management, General Clifford was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Lindsey Air Station, Wiesbaden, Germany, in the Directorate of Management Analysis. During this tour he became chief of the Progress Analysis Division which tracked the status of all major force programs being implemented throughout USAFE.
In July 1966 General Clifford went to the Pentagon where he served for 18 months in the Directorate of Aerospace Programs, under the deputy chief of staff for programs and resources. Then in December 1967 he was selected to be a military assistant in the Directorate of Organizational and Management Planning in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Administration.
He completed his Pentagon tour in July 1969 and entered the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation (with honors) in June 1970, he proceeded to George Air Force Base for F-4 training. Upon completion he went to the Republic of Vietnam where he served from March to November 1971 in the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang Air Base, first as deputy commander for operations and then as wing vice commander, while flying more than 90 combat missions. He was then sent directly from Vietnam to Germany to become the first commander of the 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base. General Clifford commanded the wing from December 1971 until July 1973 when he was transferred to Sembach Air Base, Germany, to become vice commander of Seventeenth Air Force.
In July 1974 General Clifford returned to the United States for duty as the U.S. Air Force director of inspection, assigned at Norton Air Force Base, Calif. This was followed in April 1976 by his assignment as commander of the 26th North American Air Defense Command Region/Air Division, with headquarters at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Then in September 1978 he was assigned to his present job in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs).
General Clifford's military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm.
He was promoted to the grade of major general on Jan. 18, 1977, with date of rank of Nov. 1, 1973.