Military Bios

Major General William K. James:

Military Branch:United States Airforce
Retired July 1, 1993.  
Major General William K. James is director of the Defense Mapping Agency, Fairfax, Va.
General James was born in 1935, in Hope, Ark. He earned a bachelor of science degree in geology from Southern Methodist University in 1958. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1964, Armed Forces Staff College in 1973 and Air War College in 1978.
Upon graduation from Southern Methodist University, he received a regular commission in the Air Force through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program as a distinguished graduate. He entered flight training at Bartow Air Base, Fla., in July 1958, and received his pilot wings at Greenville Air Force Base, Miss., in July 1959.
The general spent the next six years as an instructor pilot, officer training instructor, and standardization-evaluation flight examiner, flying T-33s and T-37s at Greenville Air Force Base and Moody Air Force Base, Ga. In September 1965 General James completed F-100 conversion training and was assigned to the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, England. He transferred to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Bien Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in February 1969. During this tour of duty he flew 180 combat missions.
Returning to the United States in December 1969, General James was assigned to the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. While there he served successively as an F-111 flight commander, squadron weapons officer, squadron chief of training and scheduling, and standardization-evaluation flight examiner.
He graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va., in January 1973 and was assigned to Headquarters Allied Forces Central Europe, Brunssum, Netherlands, as an action officer in the Plans Division, Nuclear Operations Branch. In December 1975 General James became commander of the 55th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford, England.
After graduation from the Air War College as a distinguished graduate in May 1978, the general was assigned as chief of the Plans, Operations and Readiness Division, Air Directorate, National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C. General James served as vice commander of the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., from April 1980 to August 1980, when he became wing commander.
He was assigned as commander of the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., in September 1982 and remained commander of the organization when, in October 1983, it was redesignated as the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Division. When the division reorganized in April 1985, General James became commander of the newly activated 28th Air Division, of which the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing was a subordinate unit.
In September 1986 the general reported to Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England, as commander of 3rd Air Force. From July 1988 to July 1989 he was deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. He then became deputy commander in chief for U.S. Southern Command, Panama, and served throughout Operation Just Cause. He assumed his present position in June 1990.
The general is a command pilot with almost 6,500 flying hours in the T-33, T-37, A-7, A-10, F-100, F-111, F-15, EC-135 and E-3. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with five oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
He was promoted to major general Oct. 1, 1986, with same date of rank.


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