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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Richard A. Burpee
Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee was born October 3, 1932 in Delton, Michigan. After graduating from high school in 1951, Burpee went on to earn an undergraduate degree in 1959 and a Master's degree in Public Administration in 1965. His professional military schools include: Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, National War College, and Advanced Management.
Entering the Air Force in December, 1953, Burpee received his wings and Second Lieutenant commission at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas in March, 1955. He served as an instructor pilot at Bryan AFB and Reese AFB until June, 1962. He then was selected as an exchange officer with Royal Canadian Air Force for two years. In January, 1967, he began F-4 qualification training and was assigned to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam where from August, 1967 until September, 1968 he flew 336 F-4 combat missions.
Upon returning to the United States he was assigned to HQ, U.S. Air Force. In 1971, he served as FB-111 Aircraft Commander at Pease AFB and Commander of the 509th Bombardment Wing until April, 1975, when he was appointed Director, Training for Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, SAC HQ. In January, 1977 he became commander of the 19th Air Division, Carswell AFB. He returned to SAC HQ in June, 1979 as Inspector General and in June, 1980 became SAC Deputy Director for Operations. Then in February, 1981 he was transferred to HQ, USAF as Deputy Director Operations, then as HQ USAF Director of Operations from July to June 1982.
In August, 1983 General Burpee became Commander, Air Logistics Center, Tinker AFB, then Director of Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff, then finally as Commander, 15th Air Force where he ended his 37 years of service after his retirement in 1990. His military decorations include National Defense and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 14 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Lt. General Richard A. Burpee was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 10, 1998 for a long and illustrious career in military aviation where he played a significant role in the defense of our country.