Major General Thomas W. Sawyer is deputy chief of staff, operations, for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Aerospace Defense Command, and the U.S. Air Force Space Command, with consolidated headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
General Sawyer was born Nov. 19, 1933, in Turlock, Calif. He graduated from Livingston (Calif.) High School and enlisted in the Air Force in February 1952. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1965 and earned a master's degree in international relations from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1974. He also graduated from Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1962 and the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1974.
The general served as an aircraft mechanic at Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., until his entrance into the aviation cadet program in November 1953. He received his primary training at Marianna Air Field, Fla., and completed basic flying training at Webb Air Force Base, Texas, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant in February 1955.
After completing Ground Control Intercept School at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., General Sawyer was assigned to the 750th and later to the 670th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadrons as a weapons controller.
In February 1957 he entered F-86D combat crew training and later flew with the 15th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. In October 1961 the general was assigned to the 329th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at George Air Force Base, Calif., and moved to the 95th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Del., in September 1965. General Sawyer's next assignment was to the 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., for F-100 combat crew training. In December 1966 he served as a flight commander with the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron at both Bien Hoa and Phu Cat Air Bases, Republic of Vietnam.
He was assigned to Headquarters Air Defense Command, Colorado Springs, Colo., in November 1967, first as an action officer and later as chief of the Operational Test and Evaluation Branch, both within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
General Sawyer became commander of the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Keflavik, Iceland, in March 1971. He returned to the United States in August 1973 to attend the National War College and in July 1974 was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as chief of the International Relations Branch, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations. He subsequently served as chief of the Security Assistance Division and the Middle East-Africa Division.
The general moved to Fort Lee, Va., as vice commander of the 20th Air Division, North American Air Defense Command-Aerospace Defense Command in January 1977. He was selected as military assistant to the undersecretary of the Air Force in April 1978 and returned to Air Force headquarters to hold that position until becoming military assistant to the secretary of the Air Force in July 1979.
From July 1980 to January 1982, General Sawyer was commander of the 26th Air Division and the 26th North American Aerospace Defense Command Region at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. He assumed his present duties with North American Aerospace Defense Command in February 1982 and became the first Space Command deputy chief of staff for operations in September 1982.
The general is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal. He also wears the Senior Space Badge.
He was promoted to major general Aug. 1, 1983, with date of rank Aug. 1, 1979.
(Current as of March 2021)