John Dale Ryan

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John Dale Ryan
GEN Ryan, John Dale (2).jpg
General John Dale Ryan
Born (1915-12-10)December 10, 1915
Cherokee, Iowa
Died October 27, 1983(1983-10-27) (aged 67)
Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
Place of burial United States Air Force Academy Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1938–1973
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force
Strategic Air Command
Sixteenth Air Force
Second Air Force
Battles/wars World War II
Awards See below
Relations General Michael E. Ryan (son)

General John Dale Ryan (December 10, 1915 – October 27, 1983) was the seventh Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. As chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, General Ryan served in a dual capacity. He was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which, as a body, acts as the principal military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense. In his other capacity, he was responsible to the Secretary of the Air Force for managing the vast human and materiel resources of the world's most powerful aerospace force.

Early life

The general was born in Cherokee, Iowa, in 1915. Following graduation from Cherokee Junior College in 1934, he entered the United States Military Academy from which he graduated in 1938. He next attended flying school at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas, and received his pilot wings in 1939.

Military career

General Ryan remained at Kelly Field as a flight instructor for approximately two years. From January 1942 until August 1943, he was director of training at Midland Army Air Field, Texas, and was instrumental in establishing an advanced bombardier training school. His next assignment was as operations officer for the Second Air Force at Colorado Springs, Colorado In February 1944, he was transferred to Italy where he commanded the 2d Bombardment Group and later became operations officer for the 5th Bombardment Wing, Fifteenth Air Force. While commanding the 2d Bombardment Group he lost a finger to enemy antiaircraft fire. Later on, this resulted in his nickname, sometimes used derisively, "Three-fingered Jack."

He returned to the United States in April 1945, and became deputy air base commander, Midland Army Air Field, Texas. In September 1945, he was assigned to the Air Training Command at Fort Worth and Randolph Field, Texas, where he remained until April 1946, when he assumed duties with the 58th Bombardment Wing and participated in the Bikini Atoll atomic weapons tests.

From September 1946 to July 1948, he was assistant chief of staff for pilots of the 58th Bombardment Wing and then Eighth Air Force director of operations. For the next three years, he commanded the 509th Bombardment Group at Walker Air Force Base, New Mexico. Between July 1951 and June 1956, General Ryan commanded the 97th Bombardment Wing and the 810th Air Division, both at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas, and the 19th Air Division at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas.

General Ryan became director of materiel for the Strategic Air Command in June 1956, and four years later assumed command of SAC's Sixteenth Air Force in Spain. In July 1961, he was named commander of the Second Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

In August 1963, General Ryan was assigned to the Pentagon as inspector general for the U.S. Air Force. One year later he was named vice commander in chief of Strategic Air Command and in December 1964, became commander in chief. He was assigned as commander in chief, Pacific Air Forces, in February 1967.

The general was appointed vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force in August 1968, and chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force in August 1969.

One of the more controversial moves of his tenure was his disbandment of the U.S. Air Force Pipes and Drums, the only free-standing, full-time pipe band in the U.S. armed forces.

Ryan's tenure as commander of PACAF and Air Force Chief of Staff also engendered controversy when he was described as one of a group that helped destroy General Jack Lavelle's career after Lavelle gave fighter pilots permission to shoot back at bona fide threats, something previously denied them by rules of engagement. This was also related to the court-martial of USAF Colonel Jack Broughton, after Broughton attempted to protect one of his pilots who shot back at an anti-aircraft position also in apparent violation of rules of engagement. The irony is that Col Broughton had to protect the pilot from his own side, and directly from General Ryan, whose "undue command influence" later resulted in the overturning and expungement of Broughton's conviction by the USAF Board for the Correction of Military Records.

Awards and decorations

File:Ryan Ryan.PNG
Presenting Distinguished Flying Cross to his son, Captain Michael E. Ryan (right), 1969.
Personal decorations
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Width-44 white ribbon with width-10 scarlet stripes at edges, separated from the white by width-2 ultramarine blue stripes. Army Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges Legion of Merit
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster
Width-44 purple ribbon with width-4 white stripes on the borders Purple Heart
Campaign and service medals
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars
Service, training, and marksmanship awards
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters
Foreign awards
French Legion of Honour, Commandeur Medal
French WWII Croix de Guerre with bronze palm
Chinese Order of the Cloud and Banner, 1st Grade with Special Grand Cordon
60px Chinese Order of the Cloud and Banner, 2nd Grade with Grand Cordon
South Korean Order of National Security Merit, Tong-il Medal
National Order of Vietnam, Commander
National Order of Vietnam, Knight
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Great Star for Military Merit, Chile
Greek Order of the Phoenix, Grand Cross
Spanish Order of Aeronautical Merit, Grand Cross with Red Decoration
Brazilian Order of Aeronautical Merit, Grand Official
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Other achievements

In July 1971, General Ryan became the first foreign dignitary to receive the Golden Wings of the Philippine Air Force. Additional foreign decorations are Chilean Military Star of the Armed Forces, Class of Great Star for Military Merit

In December 1962, he joined a select group of athletes, who have been successful in their professional careers since their college football days, when he was chosen a member of the Sports Illustrated Silver Anniversary All-American team.

He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, on May 30, 1966; and an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Akron, Ohio, on June 5, 1967.

General Ryan's son, General Michael E. Ryan, USAF, also held the position of Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Unlike the elder Ryan's career as bomber pilot, the younger Ryan was a fighter pilot.


External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Thomas S. Power
Commander, Strategic Air Command
Succeeded by
Gen. Joseph J. Nazzaro
Preceded by
Gen. John P. McConnell
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Succeeded by
Gen. George S. Brown