An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Brigadier General James M. Vande Hey was born in Marible, Wis., in 1916. He graduated from Antigo High School and took undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Philippines. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Philippines, Manila.

General Vande Hey completed primary pilot training at Hicks Field, Fort Worth, Texas, and basic training at Goodfellow Field, San Angelo, Texas. Finishing advanced training at Maxwell Air Base, Ala., he was commissioned a second lieutenant and received his wings Oct. 31, 1941.

His first assignment was with the 15th Pursuit Group, Wheeler Field, Hawaii in November 1941. From 1941 to 1945 he served as a fighter pilot, squadron operations officer, fighter squadron commander, and group fighter operations officer with duty in the Central Pacific at Midway Island, Canton Island, Baker Island, Marshall and Gilbert Island, Guam, Saipan and Iwo Jima. Flying P-40, 47, 70 and 51 aircraft, General Vande Hey accumulated 262 combat missions and 615 combat hours. He destroyed four Japanese aircraft, and is credited with one probable kill.

He returned from the Pacific in May 1945 and was assigned to the 1st Fighter Command, Mitchell Field, N.Y., until July 1947. During this time he spent two months in Chile with the Military Assistance Group. Traux Field, Wis., was his next stop from 1947 to 1949. Leaving Traux Field in July 1949, he went to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon to Assistant for Programming Aircraft Divisions. He was reassigned in July 1953 to the Philippines as air attache until June 1956.

General Vande Hey then became a student at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He remained at the college as a faculty member from 1957 until July 1959, at which time he was assigned as the deputy for academic instruction, Air War College, until July 1961.

After leaving the Air War College he served as vice commander of the Washington Air Defense Sector, Fort Lee Air Force Station, Fort Lee, Va., until 1964, when he was assigned deputy commander of the 86th Air Division (Defense). Following his assignment at the 86th Air Division General Vande Hey was assigned as commander of the 7030th Combat Support Wing and Ramstein Air Base, in July 1965.

General Vande Hey assumed command of the 86th Air Division and Allied Sector III on Jan. 12, 1966.

General Vande Hey is a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, Outstanding Unit Award with oak leaf cluster, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with seven battle stars, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Philippine Aviation Badge (wings), and the Air Force Longevity Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters. He is authorized to wear the Missile Badge.