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First Name: Russell

Last Name: Dougherty

Birthplace: Glasgow, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Elliott

Date of Birth: 15 November 1920

Date of Death: 07 September 2007

Rank: General

Years Served: 1943-1977
Russell Elliott Dougherty

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Russell Elliott Dougherty

General, U.S. Air Force

Russell Elliott Dougherty was born on 15 November 1920 in Glasgow, KY. He graduated from Western Kentucky University, the Law School of the University of Louisville and the National War College. While attending Louisville, he became a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. He served briefly in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Military Career

Dougherty entered active military service as an aviation cadet at the outbreak of World War II; previously, he had been a member of the 123rd Cavalry, Kentucky National Guard. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces, and his pilot wings, in March 1943.

During World War II, he was an instructor pilot in the Air Training Command. He later served in the 3rd Air Force in crew and instructor pilot duties; as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot; and on a B-29 combat crew. His post-World War II assignments encompass varied duties in operational, maintenance, administrative, political/military and command duties in Air Force, joint, and international assignments.

In 1947, he served as a Unit Instructor with the Air Force Reserve at Standiford Field, Louisville, KY, and in 1948 was transferred to the Far East Air Forces. While flying with the 19th Bombardment Wing, he served as Staff Judge Advocate for the Wing and later as Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for the 20th Air Force. In April 1950, he became the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for FEAF Headquarters in Japan and, at the outbreak of the Korean War, was assigned to temporary duty in intelligence with FEAF.

Dougherty returned to the U.S. in 1951 and was assigned to Air Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, as Chief of the Appeals and Litigation Division, and as the Assistant U.S. Air Force trial attorney for litigation arising out of Air Force procurement and contractual activities.

In December 1952, Dougherty elected to leave the Judge Advocate General's Department for assignment to the Strategic Air Command and attended both B-29 refresher and KC-97 Stratotanker transition training. In June 1953, he began successive assignments in SAC as Operations Officer for the 303rd Air Refueling Squadron; Commander of the 303rd Armament and Electronics Squadron; Deputy Chief of Operations, 303rd Bombardment Wing; and Commander, 358th Bombardment Squadron, all at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ. He was assigned to Headquarters 15th Air Force, SAC, as Chief, Operations Division, where he planned the B-52 round-the-world non-stop flight, Operation Power Flite, in 1957. Later he became the Deputy Director of Operations, Headquarters 15th Air Force.

He attended the National War College during 1959-60 and, following graduation, was assigned duty in Headquarters USAF in the Office of the Deputy Director for War Plans. In April 1961, he was appointed Deputy Assistant Director of Plans for Joint Matters, and in February 1963 he was made the Assistant Director for Plans for Joint and National Security Council Matters.

Dougherty had four assignments in joint and international duties. During 1964-65, he was the Deputy Director for Plans and Operations (J-3), Headquarters U.S. European Command, in Paris, France. During this assignment in November 1964, he was the U.S. planner for the successful U.S./Belgian rescue operation at Stanleyville in the Congo. In August 1965, he returned to Washington as Director, European Region, Office of the Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs). In July 1967, he again returned to Europe and served until August 1969 as Director, J-5 (Plans and Policy) at Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany.

In September 1969, Dougherty was again assigned to Headquarters USAF where he served as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations and, in February 1970, became Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations for the U.S. Air Force. He was assigned as Commander, 2nd Air Force, SAC, with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, LA, in April 1971. In this position, Dougherty commanded the U.S. Air Force's largest numbered Air Force, consisting of the majority of SAC's B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers.

On 1 May 1972, Dougherty was promoted to the four-star rank of General and assigned as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, headquarters of NATO's Allied Command Europe. He returned to the U.S. on 1 August 1974 to become the eighth Commander of the Strategic Air Command.

General Dougherty retired from the Air Force on 1 October 1977.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (3 Awards)

Legion of Merit (3 Awards)

Bronze Star Medal

Joint Service Commendation Medal

He was rated a Command Pilot.


He held an honorary doctor of science degree from Westminster College.

He held an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Akron.

He is an "Old Master" of Purdue University.

He was a member of the Kentucky State Bar Association and the Bar Association of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Retirement

After retiring from the Air Force, he practiced law in the Washington, DC area for several years.

Death and Burial

General Russell Elliott Dougherty died in Alexandria, VA, on 7 September 2007. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 707   Created by: MHOH




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