Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Richard

Last Name: Lawson

Birthplace: Fairfield, IA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Laverne

Date of Birth: 19 December 1929

Rank: General

Years Served: 1951-1986
Richard Laverne Lawson

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Richard Laverne Lawson

General, U.S. Air Force

Richard Laverne Lawson was born on 19 December 1929 in Fairfield, IA. He graduated from high school in Fairfield then attended the University of Iowa and Parsons College. While at Parsons College, Lawson enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard and was later called to active duty as the 133rd Infantry Regiment's Sergeant Major at Fort Riley, KS. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in November 1951 and assigned as Adjutant for the 133rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Alexandria, LA. He graduated from Parsons in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

In May 1952, Lawson entered pilot training at Columbus AFB, MS, and completed training at Reese AFB, TX, in July 1953. He was then assigned to the 69th Bombardment Squadron at Loring AFB, ME, as a B-36 Peacemaker co-pilot and Aide-de-Camp to Brigadier General Bertram C. Harrison. He accompanied Brigadier General Harrison to the 72nd Bombardment Wing, Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico, in July 1955. While there, he continued to serve as Aide-de-Camp to General Harrison and also to Brigadier General H.R. Sullivan. However, his primary duty was as Chief, Operations Control Division, 72nd Bombardment Wing. Lawson returned to the U.S. in June 1958 and was assigned to staff officer positions in the 5th Bombardment Wing, located at Travis AFB, CA.

Lawson transferred to Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB, NE, in September 1961 and served as a member of the European Force Application Team, Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff. In September 1963 he entered the Air Command and Staff College. Upon graduation, Lawson returned to SAC Headquarters and was assigned as an Operations Planner in the Concepts Division, Operations Plans Directorate. He graduated from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, in 1964 and concurrently earned a Master of Public Administration degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He became Chief of the Future Concepts Branch in February 1967. He entered the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair in July 1968 and graduated in 1969.

From June 1969 to February 1970, Lawson served at McCoy AFB, FL, as Deputy Commander for Operations, 306th Bombardment Wing. He subsequently took Command of the 28th Bombardment Wing, then deployed to the Western Pacific from Ellsworth AFB, SD. He returned to Ellsworth with the Wing in March 1970.

In July 1971, Lawson was assigned to Headquarters USAF in Washington, in the Directorate of Operations, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, with duty as Chief, Strategic Division. In July 1972, he was named Deputy Director for Strategic Operational Forces and, in February 1973, he became Deputy Director of Operations.

Appointed as Military Assistant to the President in August 1973, Lawson served at the White House until March 1975 when he returned to Air Force Headquarters as Director of Plans, and remained there until June 1977. He was then assigned as Commander, 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB, LA. In July 1978 he was named Director for Plans and Policy, J-5, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington.

On 1 July 1980, Lawson was promoted to the four-star rank of General and was assigned as the U.S. Representative to the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium. In July 1981 he was assigned as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).

He assumed duty as Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Headquarters U.S. European Command at Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, in August 1983.

General Lawson retired from the Air Force on 1 December 1986. During his service, he became a Command Pilot with over 7,000 hours and, during the Vietnam War, flew 73 combat missions.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards)

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Soldier's Medal

Bronze Star Medal

Air Medal (2 Awards)

Joint Service Commendation Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal (4 Awards)

Army Commendation Medal

Presidential Unit Citation (2 Awards)

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (3 Awards)


Command Pilot Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge


He received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Centenary College, Shreveport, LA, in 1980.

In Retirement

After his retirement from the USAF, he began to work in the private sector, including positions as the president and CEO of the National Mining Association.

Honoree ID: 767   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image