Military Strategist/Military Combat
John Meyer entered the Air Force in 1940 to give his feet a rest — in a way. As a runner for his uncle’s Wall Street bank, Meyer was on his feet all day at work and on the subway ride to and from his home. He even stood up for lunch. Once, he found a seat on the subway, but at the next stop a pregnant lady boarded the train. When Meyer stood up to give her his seat, a man who he described as, “some slob who weighed twice as much as me,” took it. Meyer pulled him up and punched him. The next thing he remembered was waking up on the platform at the next stop. So much for gallantry.
- Commanded the 487th Fighter Squadron, 8th Air Force in England.
- November 1944 appointed deputy commander of the 352nd Fighter Group and the leading American ace in Europe with 37 ½ aircraft destroyed in air or on land.
- Commanded an F-86 Sabrejet group in Korea where it flew in the First United Nations Counteroffensive and Chinese Communist Forces Spring Offensive campaigns. While in Korea he increased his combat victories to 39 ½.
- Became commander of the 12th Air Force Tactical Air Command in 1963.
- Was made USAF Vice Chief of Staff in 1969 and Commander in Chief of the Strategic Air Command in 1972.
General John C. Meyer completed a celebrated career in the United States Air Force by serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command from 1972-1974.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 3rd, 1919, Meyer attended schools in New York and graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Geography.
He enlisted in the Air Corps in 1939 and in July 1940 received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in addition to his pilot wings. After several flying assignments as a pilot and commander, Meyer received an assignment to the Eighth Air Force in England. There he commanded the 487th Fighter Squadron and led it into combat during World War II. In November 1944, Meyer served as the Deputy Commander of the 352nd Fighter Group and became the leading American Ace in Europe with 37.5 aircraft destroyed in the air or on the ground. By the end of the war he had flown 200 combat missions with 462 combat flying hours.
In 1948, the Air Force selected Meyer as the Secretary of the Air Force’s principal point of contact with the U.S. House of Representatives. Following that assignment, he returned to a tactical flying unit in August 1950 when he assumed command of the 4th Fighter Group at New Castle, Delaware. He took his F-86 Sabrejet group to Korea where it flew in the first United Nations Counteroffensive and Chinese Communist Forces Spring Offensive campaigns. He destroyed two communist MIG-15 aircraft bringing his total of enemy aircraft destroyed to 39.5.
After a tour of duty as Director of Operations for Air Defense Command and Continental Air Defense Command, Meyer graduated from the Air War College in 1956 and was retained as an instructor. After he left the War College, Meyer next assignment was to the strategic Air Command (SAC) where he commanded two air divisions in the Northeast United States.
In July 1962, Meyer moved to the headquarters of SAC at Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska and assumed the position of Deputy Director of Plans. He also served as the SAC’s representative to the Joint Strategic Planning Staff. John Meyer became the Commander of the Tactical Air Command’s Twelfth Air Force in November 1963. The Twelfth Air Force provided tactical air units for joint logistic and close air support training with Army ground units stationed in the Western half of the United States.
In February 1966, Meyer was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he served first as Deputy Director and then Vice Director. In May 1967, he became the Joint Staff’s Director of Operations. Meyer subsequently was selected to be the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and assumed those duties in August 1969. He served as the Vice Chief of Staff through April 1972. On May 1st, 1972, Meyer became the seventh commander of SAC and the Director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff. He held that position until his retirement on August 1st, 1974.
His military decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with six oak leaf clusters, and Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters. In March 1973, Meyer received the Frank Hawks Memorial Award for his many contributions to aviation.
General John Meyer left a great legacy of public service to his country when he died in Marina Del Rey, California on December 2nd, 1975.
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