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First Name: John

Last Name: Piotrowski

Birthplace: Detroit, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Louis

Date of Birth: 17 February 1934

Rank: General

Years Served: 1952-1990
John Louis Piotrowski

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


John Louis Piotrowski

General, U.S. Air Force

John Louis Piotrowski was born on 17 February 1934 in Detroit, MI, and graduated from Henry Ford Trade School at Dearborn, MI, in 1951.

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in September 1952. After basic training at Lackland AFB, TX, he was assigned to Keesler AFB, MS, as a student in basic electronics and ground radar.

In July 1953, Piotrowski transferred to Harlingen AFB, TX, for navigator and observer training in the aviation cadet program. After graduating as a distinguished graduate, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force in August 1954. He then returned to Keesler AFB for advanced training in electronic countermeasures. In January 1955, he received the Electronic Warfare Rating and was assigned to the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in South Korea and Japan as an Electronic Warfare Officer and RB-26 Navigator.

Piotrowski returned to the U.S. in May 1957 for pilot training at Marana Air Base, AZ; Bainbridge Air Base, GA; and Bryan AFB, TX. He then attended F-86F advanced gunnery training at Williams AFB, AZ. After graduation, he was assigned as Armament and Electronics Maintenance Officer at Williams and, later, at Luke AFB, AZ. In May 1961, he moved to Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Field 9, FL, and joined the initial cadre of Project Jungle Jim, which became the 1st Air Commando Wing. While assigned to Eglin, he served in Southeast Asia, from November 1961 to May 1963, as a Munitions Maintenance Officer, and T-28 and B-26 combat aircrew member.

In August 1965, Piotrowski joined the Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, NV, and served as an F-4C Instructor Pilot, Chief of Academics, an Academic Instructor and Project Officer for the Air Force operational test and evaluation of the Walleye missile program. Upon completion of testing in the U.S., he introduced the Walleye into combat with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing in Southeast Asia. After graduation from the Armed Forces Staff College in August 1968, he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington as an Action Officer under the Deputy Director of Plans for Force Development.

From December 1970 to July 1971, he attended the Royal Air Force College of Air Warfare. He was then assigned to Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, as Assistant and, subsequently, Deputy Commander for Operations, 36th Tactical Fighter Wing. In January 1972, he took Command of the 40th Tactical Group, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

In April 1974, Piotrowski became Chief of the Air Force Six-Man Group, located at Maxwell AFB, directly responsible to the Chief of Staff. He became Vice Commander of Keesler Technical Training Center, Keesler AFB, in March 1975.

He took Command of the reactivated 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing at Tinker AFB, OK, in July 1976 and was instrumental in establishing the E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft as an operational Air Force weapon system. While Congress debated the future of the E-3 (due to huge cost over-runs), Piotrowski took the planes on continuous road shows; especially, Europe and Korea. He filled the planes with observers who would benefit, or could appreciate the capability to project tactical forces anywhere in the world, in less than 24 hours. It should be noted, he was not only an effective leader, he was very personable and warm hearted. Before Piotrowski, the E-3 was going to be a system that would orbit America in defense, and after he arrived he changed the system to deploy to where the war was, and bring tankers and fighters along. A true tactical mission, with troops who could live out of an A-3 bag for 200 days a year.

Piotrowski was named Deputy Commander for Air Defense, Tactical Air Command, Peterson AFB, in September 1979. In April 1981, he became Tactical Air Command's Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at Langley AFB, VA, and in August 1982 was assigned as its Vice Commander. He served as Commander of 9th Air Force, Shaw AFB, SC, from October 1982 to July 1985.

On 1 August 1985, Piotrowski was promoted to the four-star rank of General and assigned as Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force in Washington. In February 1987, he became Commander-in- Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command (CINCNORAD) and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Space Command (USCINCSPACE).

General Piotrowski retired from the Air Force in 1990. During his service, he became a Command Pilot with over 5,000 flying hours, including 100 combat missions and 210 combat flying hours. . He received the Eugene M. Zuckert Management Award for 1979.

While in the Air Force, he attended Arizona State University and Florida State University, and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He did postgraduate work at the University of Southern California and Auburn University, and attended the Program for Management Development at Harvard University. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1956, Air Command and Staff College in 1965, Armed Forces Staff College in 1968, and the Royal Air Force College of Air Warfare, Royal Air Force Station Manby, England, in 1971.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

Legion of Merit

Meritorious Service Medal (3 Awards)

Air Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal (2 Awards)

Presidential Unit Citation

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (4 Awards)


Command Pilot Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

Honoree ID: 812   Created by: MHOH




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