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Lieutenant General Robert D. Springer is vice commander in chief, Military Airlift Command, with headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

General Springer was born in 1933, in Millheim, Pa., and graduated from the Patton Masonic School, Elizabethtown, Pa., in 1950. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in social sciences in 1964 and a master's degree in international affairs in 1969, both from The George Washington University. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1959, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1966, and was a distinguished graduate of both the Air Command and Staff College in 1964 and the Air War College in 1972.

He entered the U.S. Air Force in October 1952 and received his commission and navigator wings through the aviation cadet program in August 1953. He entered B-29 combat crew training school at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and in January 1954 was assigned to the 344th Bombardment Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan. In March 1957 General Springer entered pilot training with the 3307th Pilot Training Group at Marana Air Base, Ariz., and in June 1957 with the 3301st Pilot Training Group at Moore Air Base, Texas. He was awarded his pilot wings at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, in March 1958. General Springer then returned to Randolph where he attended KC-97 co-pilot training and later became the 4397th Air Refueling Wing intelligence officer.

In May 1960 General Springer became an instructor at the Squadron Officer School and the Warfare Systems School, both at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. In January 1964 he entered the Air Command and Staff College. From July 1964 to September 1965 he served as a C-130 pilot at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.

The general then was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam, first at Bien Hoa Air Base as an intelligence officer with the 6251st Tactical Fighter Wing and later as chief of intelligence with the 1st Air Commando Squadron at Pleiku Air Base. Upon his return to the United States in September 1966, General Springer was again assigned as an instructor at the Squadron Officer School. In August 1969 he transferred to the Directorate of Doctrine, Concepts and Objectives, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as a planning and programming officer. After completing Air War College in May 1972, he was assigned to Air Force headquarters as special assistant to the Air Force vice chief of staff.

In May 1974 General Springer was assigned to Pope Air Force Base, N.C., where he served successively as assistant deputy commander for operations, deputy commander for operations and vice commander of the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing. In June 1978 he took command of the 435th Tactical Airlift Wing at Rhein-Main Air Base, West Germany. He then transferred to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, as commander of the 322nd Airlift Division. General Springer became deputy chief of staff for personnel at Military Airlift Command headquarters in August 1981.

The general returned to Randolph Air Force Base in July 1982 as assistant deputy chief of staff, manpower and personnel for military personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and commander, Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center. The general became commander of the 21st Air Force, McGuire Air Force Base, in October 1984. In August 1985 he again was assigned to Air Force headquarters as Air Force inspector general. He assumed his present position in July 1987.

The general is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours, and 72 combat missions in Southeast Asia. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with three oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with service star, Korean Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, United Nations Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

He was promoted to lieutenant general Aug. 2, 1985, with same date of rank.

(Current as of September 1987)