Died March 21,2003
General Robert James Dixon is commander of the U.S. Air Force's Tactical Air Command. Tactical Air Command is responsible for organizing, equipping and training assigned and attached tactical forces within the continental United States and is responsible for the combat readiness of 45 percent of Reserve/Air National Guard flying units.
TAC maintains a reserve of combat ready fighter, drone, reconnaissance, and special operations forces capable of rapid worldwide deployment and operations. TAC trains the air and ground crews for the overseas commands of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the Pacific; and is the lead command for the development and testing of doctrine, concepts, requirements, tactics and procedures for tactical air forces worldwide. General Dixon also serves as commander in chief of U.S. Air Forces for both the Atlantic and U.S. Readiness commands.
General Dixon was born in New York City in 1920. He graduated from Dartmouth College in June 1941 with a bachelor of arts degree in literature. In 1941 he entered pilot training in the Royal Canadian Air Force and in November 1942 was commissioned a pilot officer (second lieutenant). He then graduated with a navigator rating from the RCAF Astro Navigation School. After completing Spitfire training at Dyce, Scotland, he was assigned to the 541st Royal Air Force Photo Reconnaissance Squadron at Benson Air Field, England.
In September 1943 General Dixon was transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces and assigned to the 7th Photographic Group, Eighth Air Force, European Theater of Operations. In 1944 General Dixon assumed command of the 14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th Photographic Group, which had Mark XI Spitfires, P-38s and P-51s.
He flew missions in four different aircraft for a total of 235 combat flying hours in 65 missions. He was shot down by flack while doing reconnaissance of the oil refinery at Merseburg, Germany. He was captured and remained a prisoner of war until released by U.S. Forces in May 1945.
After hospitalization, General Dixon served at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City, Okla., and Rapid City, S.D. He was an instructor at the West Point Preparatory School in 1947 and then was assigned as group and wing personnel officer for the 82d Fighter Wing, Grenier Field, N.H.
From November 1948 to 1953, General Dixon served in the Directorate of Personnel, Headquarters Strategic Air Command. He next served 11 months in Korea with the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing as wing inspector and then as commander of the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. He completed 28 combat missions before the Korean armistice.
General Dixon returned to the United States in 1954. He was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force and subsequently served as assistant to the deputy chief of staff, plans and operations, for National Security Council affairs. In this capacity he was Air Force action officer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department and the National Security Council.
He graduated from the Air War College in 1959 and was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Paris, France, as staff missile planner. Reassigned to the Pentagon in 1962, he served as assistant deputy director for war plans and later as assistant for joint and National Security Council matters, deputy chief of staff, plans and operations. In this latter capacity, General Dixon was the Air Force planner for Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.
In September 1965 General Dixon was assigned to the 45th Air Division, Strategic Air Command, at Loring Air Force Base, Maine, as division commander with B-52/KC-135 units at Loring and Dow Air Force bases, Harmon and Goose air bases. From July 1967 until July 1969, he was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff, personnel for military personnel, and commander, U.S. Air Force Military Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. While in this assignment, he received the 1969 Eugene M. Zuckert Management Award.
In July 1969 General Dixon was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam as vice commander, Seventh Air Force. He flew 36 combat missions during this tour in Southeast Asia. On Aug. 1, 1970, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed the duties of deputy chief of staff, personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He served in that position until Oct. 1, 1973, at which time he was promoted to general and assumed command of Tactical Air Command.
He is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, British Distinguished Flying Cross and French Croix d'Officier de la Legion d'Honneur.
(Current as of June 1977)