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Former MAC commander remembered

Gen. Paul K. Carlton, former commander of the Military Airlift Command, passed away Nov. 23 at the age of 89 in San Antonio.  General Carlton was commander of MAC from Sept. 26, 1972, to March 31, 1977.

Gen. Paul K. Carlton, former commander of the Military Airlift Command, passed away in San Antonio Nov. 23, 2009, at the age of 88. General Carlton was commander of MAC from Sept. 26, 1972, to March 31, 1977. (Courtesy photo)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Gen. Paul K. Carlton, former commander of the Military Airlift Command, passed away Nov. 23 in San Antonio at the age of 88. General Carlton was commander of MAC from Sept. 26, 1972, to March 31, 1977.

"General Carlton's accomplishments as a commander will be remembered and honored; he embodied the core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence," said Gen. Raymond E. Johns, commander of Air Mobility Command.

Under General Carlton's leadership, MAC, the former Air Force command responsible for all airlift operations, played an integral role in the success of many high-profile missions including Operation Homecoming, the Southeast Asia prisoner-of-war release; Operation Nickel Grass, the airlift to Israel; the consolidation of strategic and tactical airlift assets; and many humanitarian operations, including the airlift of Vietnamese and Cambodian orphans to their new homes in the United States and the massive evacuation of Vietnamese refugees.

As a result of the command's accomplishments while General Carlton was commander, MAC received numerous awards including the 1972 Benjamin D. Foulois Flying Safety Trophy, the 1973 and 1974 Harmon International Trophy, the 1974 Makay Trophy, the 1974 David C. Schilling Award, and a special humanitarian award from Milwaukee's Trans-Aire '75 Exposition for MAC's many humanitarian achievements.

General Carlton, born April 14, 1921, in Manchester, N.H., received his pilot wings and commission from the Army Air Corps aviation cadet program in April 1942. His first assignment was as an instructor for the B-17 Flying Fortress. Following World War II, he served with the Strategic Air Command's first atomic bomb organization, the 509th Bombardment Wing at Roswell Air Force Base, N.M. From there, General Carlton was assigned as aide-de-camp to General Curtis E. Lemay, the SAC commander, and then went on to hold several key positions at SAC headquarters, numbered air forces and wings. He assumed command of MAC in September 1972 and served in that capacity until he retired in 1977.

General Carlton was a command pilot with more than 12,000 flying hours in the B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, B-58 Hustler, KC-135 Stratotanker, C-141 Starlifter, C-5 Galaxy and the Mach 3+ SR-71 strategic reconnaissance aircraft. He was the recipient of numerous military awards and decorations including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart.

General Carlton will forever be remembered by AMC, the Air Force, and the nation as a great Airman, warrior and leader. His extraordinary legacy will continue to live on for years to come.

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