From Vance T-37 FAIP to Air Force chief of staff

  • Published
  • By Phill Stuart
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- In difficult times such as these, taking a look back at the outstanding Air Force leaders who earned their wings at Vance Air Force Base can provide not only a sense of stability, but also hope. One such leader is Gen. Ronald Fogleman.

Born in 1942, Fogleman would go on to become the 15th Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1963 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant that same year.

Fogleman began pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in June 1963. After receiving his wings in September of 1964, Fogleman remained at Vance as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot teaching student pilots to fly the T-37 Tweet with the 3575th Pilot Training Squadron. He would later serve as a flight examiner with the same squadron until December 1967.

After leaving Vance, Fogleman trained as an F-100 pilot at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona until June 1968, when he joined the war effort in Vietnam.

Fogleman joined the 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, until September of 1969. While serving in Vietnam, he flew 315 combat missions, logging over 800 combat flying hours.

During his time in Vietnam, Fogleman served as a forward air controller with the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing between December 1968 and April 1969.

As a forward air controller, it was his responsibility to fly low, often under heavy fire from anti-aircraft artillery and surface to air missiles, to spot enemy troop and supply movements.

These forward air controllers who relayed vital information to military strategists under the most hazardous of conditions became known by their call sign: Misty FACs. Fogleman flew 80 missions as a Misty FAC.

Being a Misty FAC was extremely dangerous as a quarter of them were shot down. Fogleman was no exception, being shot down in an F-100 in 1968. He was rescued from the crash site by clinging to the side of an AH-1 helicopter after it landed at the crash site.

For his actions in Vietnam, Fogelman was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.

After leaving Vietnam, Fogleman attended Duke University while attached to the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in preparation to become an instructor at the Air Force Academy. He graduated with a master’s degree in military history and political science in 1971. He then taught history at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, until April 1973.

Fogleman continued his flying career as an F-15 Eagle demonstration pilot for international air shows.

He graduated from the Army War College in 1976 and went on to command an Air Force wing, an air division, a numbered air force, a major command and a unified combatant command.

In October 1994, Fogleman became the first Air Force Academy graduate to become the Air Force Chief of Staff. During his tenure, he introduced a simplified code of conduct for Airmen. The Air Force Core Values, which demand Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do, remain in use today.

On Sept. 1, 1997, Fogleman retired from the Air Force as the 15th Air Force Chief of Staff. He retired with more than 6,800 flying hours in fighter, transport, tanker and rotary wing aircraft.

His decorations included the Air Force, Army, Navy and Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart.