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First Name: John

Last Name: Gerhart

Birthplace: Saginaw, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Koehler

Date of Birth: 27 November 1907

Date of Death: 09 January 1981

Rank: General

Years Served: 1929-1965
John Koehler Gerhart

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John Koehler Gerhart
General, U.S. Air Force

John Koehler Gerhart was born on 27 November 1907 in Saginaw, MI. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1928 with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy. On 12 October 1929, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve after graduating from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX.

Gerhart's first tour of duty was at Mitchel Field, NY. This was followed by various assignments, including several years as a flight test pilot in both powered aircraft and gliders. He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School in April 1941.

Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Gerhart joined the newly formed Eighth Air Force. In July 1942, he went to England with the first contingent of the Eighth Air Force. In June 1943, he assumed Command of the 95th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, and later became Commander of the 93rd Combat Bomb Wing, which comprised four Groups of B-17 Flying Fortresses.

In early 1946, Gerhart returned to London and Paris for a year as Air Advisor to the American Delegation participating along with the major allies in drafting the Balkan and Italian peace treaties.

On his return to Washington in January 1947, he served successively as Director of the Legislative and Liaison Division; Chief of Statistical Services in the Office of the Comptroller; and as Chief of Staff of Joint Task Force Three, which conducted the first thermonuclear tests at Eniwetok Atoll in the spring of 1951. During the period of his duty with the Air Force Comptroller, he also graduated from the Harvard Business School (AMP-13).

Gerhart was appointed as Joint Chiefs of Staff advisor to the Planning Board of the National Security Council in March 1953, and after two years in that capacity, was designated Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group to the United Kingdom. One year later, he became the Commander of the U.S. Twelfth Air Force in Germany. He returned to the U.S. in July 1957 to become the first Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs, at Air Force Headquarters.

He was promoted to the four-star rank of General on 29 June 1962 and appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the North American Air Defense Command by President John F. Kennedy on 1 August.

He retired from the Air Force on 1 March 1965.

Medals and Awards

Silver Star Medal (3 Awards)

Legion of Merit

Distinguished Flying Cross

Bronze Star Medal

Air Medal (3 Awards)

French Croix de Guerre with Palm

Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm

Gerhart was rated a Command Pilot and a Combat and Technical Observer.

Effective Dates of Promotions

First Lieutenant (temporary) 12 March 1935 (permanent) 1 August 1935

Captain (permanent) 6 January 1940

Major (temporary) 21 March 1941 (permanent) 6 January 1947

Lieutenant Colonel (temporary) 5 January 1942

Colonel (temporary) 1 September 1943 (permanent) 2 April 1948

Brigadier General (temporary) 23 January 1945 (permanent) 9 October 1951

Major General (temporary) 3 December 1952 (permanent) 7 April 1954

Lieutenant General (temporary) 30 June 1957

General (temporary) 29 June 1962

Death and Burial

General John Koehler Gerhart died on 9 January 1981. He is buried at the U.S. Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO, in Plot 003 C 076.

Honoree ID: 724   Created by: MHOH




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