Died March 22,2008
Lieutenant General Gordon M. Graham is commander of the Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force with headquarters at Izmir, Turkey. As commander he is responsible for NATO air forces from the United States, Greece and Turkey and carries out a threefold mission of support for the Allied counterair campaign, provision of air defense for the Southeastern NATO Region, and conduct of tactical air operations in support of ground forces in the SIXATAF area of responsibility.
General Graham was born in Ouray, Colo., in 1918. He attended Taft High School in Taft, Calif. and graduated from the University of California in 1940 with a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering. He began his military career in December 1940 as an aviation cadet and was commissioned as second lieutenant and received his pilot wings upon completion of flying school in August 1941.
After a series of assignments as gunnery instructor and instructor pilot at various bases, General Graham joined the 355th Fighter Group in the Eighth Air Force in Europe in August 1944. He commanded the 354th Fighter Squadron from October 1944 until June 1945 when he was transferred to the 361st Fighter Group to command the 374th Fighter Squadron. He assumed command of the 361st Fighter Group in August 1945.
By the end of World War II in Europe, General Graham had flown 73 combat missions in P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft and had become a triple ace with 16 1/2 enemy airplanes to his credit. In addition, he had one probable and 10 damaged. He was assistant chief of staff for operations, VIII Fighter Command, from October 1945 until February 1946.
After four months as a civilian with the Socony Vacuum Company of Venezuela, he returned to active military duty with the U.S. Army Air Corps in September 1946 as deputy assistant for operations, Tenth Air Force, at Brooks Field, Texas. He later served as commander of Reserve training detachments at Brooks and Carswell fields, Texas.
In 1947 General Graham entered the University of Pittsburgh under the Air Force Institute of Technology program, earning a master of science degree in 1948. In his next two assignments, General Graham was industrial mobilization training consultant to the Union Oil Company of California and the Shell Oil Company.
Between September 1949 and December 1954, General Graham served as chief of the Target Analysis Division in the Office of the Director of Intelligence at Headquarters U.S. Air Force and then as director of targets in the Directorate of Intelligence, Headquarters Far East Air Forces, Japan.
General Graham returned to the United States in January 1955 and served first as deputy commander and then from October 1955 as commander of the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing at Turner Air Force Base, Ga. As commander, he performed the navigation for his wing's lead element during "Operation Left Hook," a Strategic Air Command fighter wing bombing and navigation competition. The 31st Strategic Fighter Wing won the navigation and maintenance trophies and took second place honors among the seven wings entered in the competition.
General Graham also led a series of F-84F jet aircraft "Oil Burner" missions which demonstrated that nonstop air refueled, day and night long-range deployments in fighter aircraft were practical. In 1958 he led the first nonstop deployment of F-100 aircraft from the United States to Europe, and also he was captain of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing team which won the Tactical Air Command Fighter Weapons Meet and placed second in worldwide tactical fighter weapons competition.
In January 1959 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as chief of the Tactical Division and later was director of operational forces in the Directorate of Operations. In July 1962 he went to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., to command the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing and in October 1963 was named vice commander of the Nineteenth Air Force. General Graham moved to Langley Air Force Base, Va., in November 1964 to become a member of the Headquarters Tactical Air Command staff. He served as Deputy for Operations from August 1965 to July 1966.
He next went to Southeast Asia and assignment as vice commander of the Seventh Air Force where he flew 146 combat missions in F-4 and RF-4 aircraft. He returned to the United States in August 1967 to become commander of the Ninth Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. In August 1968 General Graham returned to Langley Air Force Base as vice commander, Tactical Air Command.
General Graham was assigned as commander, U.S. Forces Japan, and commander, Fifth Air Force, with headquarters at Fuchu Air Station, Japan, in February 1970. At the conclusion of this tour of duty, he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, First Class, by Japan, and the Order of National Security Merit Gug-Seon Medal by the Republic of Korea. In November 1972 he was assigned to Izmir, Turkey, as commander, Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force.
For his service in the Republic of Vietnam, General Graham was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He has also earned the Silver Star; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; Air Medal with 27 oak leaf clusters; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit; National Order of Vietnam, 5th class; Vietnamese Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, 1st class; the Vietnamese Armed Forces Honor Medal, 1st class; Vietnamese Air Force Pilot Wings; Republic of Korea Air Force Pilot Wings; and Chinese Air Force Pilot Wings.
General Graham is a command pilot who, in accruing 9,000 flying hours, has flown all of the U.S. Air Force century series jet fighters including the F-111A and comparable U.S. Navy fighter aircraft such as the A-7A. He completed the U.S. Army Airborne Parachutist Course in 1962 and is jump qualified.
General Graham is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national honorary engineering society; American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers; American Fighter Aces Association; Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association; Order of Daedalians; Air Force Association; and a life member of the National Rifle Association.
(Current as of Feb. 1, 1973)