Retired Aug. 1, 1985.
Major General William R. Usher is commander of the Lowry Technical Training Center, Lowry Air Force Base, Colo. The center conducts technical training in avionics, space operations, munitions, air intelligence, logistics and audiovisual fields for members of all the services, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Federal civilian employees, and foreign students from 18 countries.
General Usher was born March 9, 1933, at Worcester, Mass. He graduated from Mount Hermon (Mass.) School in 1950, then entered Yale University where he received a bachelor of arts degree in economics in 1954. He earned a master's degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1960 and in 1981 completed the university's John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Programs in national and international security. He graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va., in 1965.
In August 1954 he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program and entered active duty in June 1955. He received his pilot wings upon completion of flight training at Webb Air Force Base, Texas, in July 1956.
From July 1956 through September 1959, General Usher served as a jet instructor pilot with the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Wethersfield, England, and with the German air force at Landsberg and Furstenfeldbruck Air Bases, Germany. He then returned to the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration to complete the master's program begun in 1954 through the Air Force Institute of Technology program.
In July 1960 he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as a plans and programming officer in the Directorate of Manpower and Organization, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations. From June 1962 to July 1964, General Usher was aide-de-comp and assistant executive officer to the vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, and assistant secretary of the Air Force Council. In addition General Usher served Presidents Kennedy and Johnson as a White House military aide from 1961 to 1964. He graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College in June 1965.
General Usher was then assigned as a plans officer in the Europe, Middle East and South Asia Division, Directorate of Plans, J-5, U.S. Strike Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. In July 1967 he began F-4 combat crew training with the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill Air Force Base.
From March 1968 to March 1969, General Usher served in the Republic of Vietnam as squadron executive officer, squadron operations officer, wing plans officer and deputy base commander with the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base. He flew more than 100 combat missions in Southeast Asia in F-4s and went with the 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron when it was temporarily deployed to Taegu Air Base, South Korea, following the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea in 1968.
The general returned to the United States in March 1969 to serve as an operations staff officer in the Pacific Division, Directorate of Operations, J-3, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. In July 1970 he became a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City.
In July 1971 General Usher become military assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. He assisted and advised secretaries Robert C. Seamans Jr. and John L. McLucas on the broad range of national security matters failing within their responsibility as secretary of the Air Force.
Named chief of the Air Force section, Joint U.S. Military Mission for Aid to Turkey, Ankara, Turkey, in August 1975, General Usher acted as the senior U.S. Air Force adviser to the commander of the Turkish air force.
Moving to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, General Usher was appointed assistant deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe in August 1977, and in May 1978 became the command's assistant for readiness. In April 1979 he returned to Air Force headquarters as director of personnel plans, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower and Personnel. He was responsible for development of Air Force military personnel policy. He was also a member of the Department of Defense Reserve Forces Policy Board and the Air Reserve Forces Policy Committee. General Usher assumed his present command in June 1982.
The general is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours and wears the parachutist badge. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with "V" device and oak leaf cluster, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and Brazilian Order of Aeronautical Merit, degree of grande cruz.
He was promoted to major general March 1, 1979, with date of rank July 1, 1975.