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First Name: William

Last Name: Kirk

Birthplace: Rayville, LA, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Home of Record: Rayville, LA
Middle Name: Leslie

Date of Birth: 11 July 1932

Date of Death: 26 April 2017

Rank: General

Years Served: 1951-1989
William Leslie Kirk

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


William L. Kirk

General, U.S. Air Force

William L. Kirk was born on 11 July 1932 in Rayville, LA. He graduated from Rayville High School in 1950 and attended Northeast Louisiana State College.

Military Career

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and became an aviation cadet in February 1953. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and awarded his pilot's wings in April 1954.

After completing pilot training at Kinston Air Base, NC, as well as Bryan and Perrin Air Force Bases, TX, Kirk attended tactical reconnaissance phase training at Shaw AFB, SC. In October 1954, he was assigned as a pilot with the 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Shaw. From March 1955 to June 1957, he served as a pilot with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Komaki and Yokota Air Bases in Japan. He became a Flight Commander with the 6021st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Johnson Air Base, Japan, in June 1957.

Kirk returned to the U.S. in November 1957 and again was assigned to the 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. From September 1960 to June 1964, he served, first, as pilot, then as Assistant Flight Commander, and finally as Flight Commander with the 92nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force Station Bentwaters, England. He also completed Squadron Officer School in 1962. He then transferred to the 4453rd Combat Crew Training Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, where he served successively as Air Operations Officer, Command Post Controller, Instructor Pilot, and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation for Tactical Air Command's first F-4 Phantom replacement training unit.

In June 1966, he completed the F-4 Fighter Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis AFB, NV, and was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing Wolf Pack at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in March 1967. He destroyed two North Vietnamese MiGs during his 130 F-4 Phantom II missions with the Wolf Pack. Upon his return to the U.S. in January 1968, he was assigned as a Squadron Operations Officer at Eglin AFB, FL. He assumed Command of the 4538th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Nellis in January 1969.

After completing the Air War College in June 1971, Kirk was assigned as Chief of the Tactics Branch and, later, as Deputy Chief of the Tactical Division, Directorate of Operations, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, DC. Although assigned at the Pentagon, he spent much of this tour of duty in Thailand. In July 1973, he became Deputy Commander for Operations, 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. From January 1974 to January 1976, Kirk was assigned to Holloman AFB, NM, first as Vice Commander, and later as Commander, of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing.

He then served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters 9th Air Force, at Shaw AFB. From November 1977 to June 1979, he was assigned as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Readiness, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam AFB, HI. He then became the command's Inspector General. In July 1980, Kirk returned to Air Force headquarters as Director of Electronic Combat, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations. He was assigned as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, in July 1982. He became Commander of 9th Air Force in July 1985.

On 1 May 1987, Kirk was promoted to the four-star rank of General and assumed his final assignment as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (CINCUSAFE) and Commander, Allied Air Forces Central Europe (COMAAFCE).

He retired from the Air Force on 1 May 1989. During his service, he became a Command Pilot with over 6,000 flying hours in jet fighter aircraft.

Medals and Awards

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

Silver Star Medal (2 Awards)

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Distinguished Flying Cross (5 Awards)

Bronze Star Medal

Meritorious Service Medal (3 Awards)

Air Medal (12 Awards)

Air Force Commendation Medal (2 Awards)

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (4 Awards)

Air Force Organizational Excellence Award

Combat Readiness Medal

Air Force Good Conduct Medal

National Defense Service Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Service Stars

Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short

Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long (4 Awards)

Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon (7 Awards)

Armed Forces Reserve Medal

Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

Air Force Training Ribbon

Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal


Command Pilot Badge

Honoree ID: 761   Created by: MHOH




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