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Brig. Gen. Richard A. Rann, USAF, Retired

Richard A. Rann


Brig. Gen. Richard A. Rann was born on October 22, 1923 on a farm about six miles from Perry, Michigan. Like so many others, he developed a love for flying as a young boy; reading flying books, building models, and watching aviation films.

As soon as he turned 18 in 1941, Rann left home to learn how to fly. Since he could not meet the United States Air Force (USAAF) education requirements, Rann went to Canada and joined the Roy Canadian Air Force (RCAF). At the top of his class, he was commissioned a Pilot Officer and sailed for England where he trained in Hurricane fighters.

He transferred to the USAAF in 1943 and rose through the ranks during two tours of duty. During his first tour, 1st Lt. Rann went from a wingman position to element leader, to flight commander, and was promoted to captain in May of 1944. In his second tour he commanded the 359th Fighter Squadron. On January 9, 1945 he was promoted to Major-the youngest in the ETO at the age of 21-and flew P-51s as part of the 356th Fighter Group. He survived three crash landings (mechanical failure), a mid-air collision and was shot down by ground fire. Rann flew 120 combat missions before being taken prisoner. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, ten Air Medals, and numerous other ribbons for his service.

In civilian life, as a veterinarian, Rann was bitten by the flying bug again, owning several planes and finally joining the Michigan Air National Guard where he ultimately became the flying training supervisor, then operations officer. He became the commanding officer at Battle Creek in 1965. As a Colonel he was transferred to the 127th TFW at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and was then promoted to Brigadier General in 1975. He flew a variety of jet aircraft: T-33s, F-89s, B-57s, and F-100s among others, ultimately accumulating over 6,500 hours in both military and civilian aircraft. At the end of his career, Rann was appointed Assistant Adjutant General for Air and Deputy Director, Michigan Department of Military Affairs, being awarded the Legion of Merit upon his retirement.

General Rann was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 12, 2002. He passed away October 9, 2014.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program