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Major General J.S. Holtoner was born in New York City, N.Y., in 1911. Following his graduation from Townsend Harris Hall in 1928, he attended New York University, where he received his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1932.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1932. In 1933 he entered flying training at Randolph Field, Texas, earning his pilot's wings at Kelly Field, Texas. He was then assigned to the First Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Mich. It was here that he flew the early combat fighter airplanes, such vintage types as the Curtiss P-1, Curtiss Hawk P-6, Boeing the Berliner Joyce P-16 and the Boeing P-26. Lieutenant Holtoner remained at Selfridge Field until 1939. He served with all three squadrons of the First Pursuit Group during that period. The squadrons included the l7th, 27th and the famed 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron. His duties ranged from engineering officer to flight commander. 

In the spring of 1939, Lieutenant Holtoner was transferred to the 18th Fighter Group at Wheeler Field, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. During his two-year tour in the islands, he served as a flight commander, operations officer and squadron commander. In individual gunnery competition, he won the famous Luke Trophy for both aerial and ground gunnery during each of the years he was there.

In the spring of 1941, now Captain Holtoner returned to the United States and to Selfridge Field, where he again joined the First Pursuit Group. As the limited emergency became more critical, the First Group was divided up to form the nucleus for five other combat fighter groups. One of these, the 53rd Fighter Group, with Major Holtoner as deputy commander, was transferred to Tallahassee, Fla. Here they spent the next year in training and preparing for combat operations overseas.

After World War II started, now Lieutenant Colonel Holtoner was assigned to command the 342d Composite Group in Iceland, where he operated P-38, P-39 and P-40 fighters in defense of the transatlantic aircraft ferry route. On Christmas of 1943, Colonel Holtoner returned to the United States. From then until March 1945, he was assigned to command the 86th Fighter Group in Waycross, Ga., training pilots for overseas duty in the various theaters of war at that time.

Toward the end of the war, in April 1945, Colonel Holtoner went overseas again to command the 82d Fighter Group in Italy. He flew combat missions with them for a total of 172 combat hours in World War II. Upon his return to the United States, he attended the Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Here he was president of the 25th class.

Following that, Colonel Holtoner was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in May 1946 as chief of the Aircraft Branch in the Directorate of Research and Development under the deputy chief of staff for development. He remained until July 1950, when he was assigned to the War College. Almost immediately, the Korean War intervened, the school was closed, and he was returned to help in the organization of the Air Research and Development Command in April 1951, when he became assistant deputy for development in the headquarters of that command in Washington. 

In January 1952, Colonel Holtoner was ordered to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to command the Air Force Flight Test Center. In December of that year, Colonel Holtoner was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He participated in the Thompson Trophy Race with the North American F-86D Sabrejet and on Sept. 2, 1953, he set a new 100-kilometer world speed record of 1,110.748 kilometers per hour and won the Thompson Trophy.  During his tour at the Flight Test Center until May 1957, General Holtoner flew every test aircraft that was assigned to the center. For his contribution to the development of the new, all-jet Air Force, General Holtoner was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit while at the test center.

In the spring of 1957, General Holtoner was transferred overseas to be deputy commander of the Third Air Force in the United Kingdom. In the summer of 1958, he was reassigned to command the 832d Air Division (Tactical Air Command) at Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, N.M.  General Holtoner returned to the Pentagon in 1959 where he was assigned to the newly created Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering.

(Up to date as of September 1962)


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