David C. Morehouse – Major General, United States Air Force

Retired August 1, 1993. Died July 15, 2008.

Major General David C. Morehouse was Judge Advocate General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

General Morehouse was born in 1935, in Fremont, Nebraska, and graduated from Fremont High School in 1953. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska in 1957, a juris doctor degree from Creighton University in 1960 and a master of laws degree from The George Washington University in 1972. The General completed Squadron Officer School in 1964 and National War College in 1977.

He accepted a direct commission as a First Lieutenant in the Department of the Judge Advocate General, U.S. Air Force Reserve, in August 1960. His first assignment was as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate with the 9th Combat Support Group, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. In April 1962 General Morehouse transferred to the 3902nd Air Base Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate. From January 1965 to January 1968 he was an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate with the 72nd Combat Support Group, Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico. He then served as staff judge advocate, 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam.

General Morehouse returned to the United States in March 1969 and was assigned as deputy staff judge advocate, 60th Military Airlift Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California. In March 1970 he became chief of military justice, 22nd Air Force, also at Travis. From August 1971 to August 1972 General Morehouse attended The George Washington University through the Air Force Institute of Technology program.

The general remained in Washington, D.C., and was assigned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General, Air Force headquarters, in September 1973, first as a member of the Litigation Division, and then as assistant executive to the judge advocate general. After completing National War College in June 1977, General Morehouse was assigned to 15th Air Base Wing, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, as Staff Judge Advocate. He transferred to Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1980 and served as Staff Judge Advocate. From October 1982 to August 1985 the general was assigned as staff judge advocate, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. He then served as Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base. In July 1988 he became deputy judge advocate general, Air Force headquarters. He assumed his present duties in May 1991.

General Morehouse is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Claims Court and the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The General's military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, and Air Force Commendation Medal.

He was promoted to Major General July 1, 1988, with same date of rank.

The General was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 9 October 2008 following a service at the Post Chapel on Fort Myer, Virginia.

A Tribute to Major General (Retired) David C. Morehouse, USAF

Commentary by JAMES W. SWANSON Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
23 July 2008
Washington, D.C.

Last week, the JAG Family lost one of our most influential and inspirational leaders upon the passing of Major General (Retired) David C. Morehouse, USAF. He taught us a great deal through his words and actions. Among many, many others, I admired him very much. So did Brigadier General (Retired) Jim Swanson, USAF, and he offers the following tribute in honor of General Morehouse's remarkable life and career in the service of our Nation.

Among his many contributions, General Morehouse vigorously defended the fundamental cornerstone of our practice — the provision of candid, independent advice to commanders. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on 9 October 2008. Please reflect upon the words of General Swanson as we honor this remarkable leader of our Corps.

Major General, USAF
The Judge Advocate General

Major General David C. Morehouse – A Personal Perspective

It's probably important to disclose upfront that I am not an unbiased commentator on the life and career of General David C. Morehouse. That's because it's not hyperbole when I assert that next to my own father, I consider him the single most important role model and mentor in my life. I first got to know General Morehouse in 1985, when as a newly-minted JAG one star, he became the Strategic Air Command SJA at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. At the same time, I was a Lieutenant Colonel select arriving at Beale AFB, California as the new wing SJA there.

Very early on, I got a strong sense of his character when I had the audacity to call and complain to him that I was getting a little more “help” than was really needed from some members of his MAJCOM staff regarding a high-visibility espionage case we were prosecuting at Beale. After listening patiently to my argument that as the SJA on the scene I should be allowed to manage the case, he told me, “O.K. Swanee, we'll do it your way, but you better not mess it up.” (Actually, he might not have said “mess” – those close to General Morehouse will remember that for him swearing was a true art form . . . he could literally convert profanity into poetry!) His willingness to put full confidence and trust in a subordinate SJA was a lesson I never forgot.

We both moved to the Pentagon in 1988, he to become the Deputy Judge Advocate General and later TJAG, and I to JAX. For the next five years, we worked enormous hours and saw each other almost every day, undoubtedly spending more of our waking time with each other than with our own families. It was no secret to anybody who knew him that General Morehouse loved to play golf, and many Saturday mornings we'd meet (then-Colonel, now retired Brigadier General) Olan Waldrop and Judge Jack Farley (of the US Court of Veterans Appeals) at Andrews AFB for what he euphemistically referred to as an “MWR inspection.” Lest anyone think, however, that his time on the course was simply idle recreation, suffice it to say that Air Force and JAG business of every sort was frequently discussed (and sometimes resolved!) in golf carts around the world. When it came to his responsibilities as TJAG, he considered himself on duty 24/7.

The difficult issues he faced and the extraordinarily dangerous threats to the JAG Corps he successfully defused during his remarkable tenure as TJAG simply cannot be adequately documented in the space of this tribute, but a couple of examples are illustrative. At a time when the Air Force was implementing draconian personnel cuts that threatened to reduce the JAG Corps below critical mass, his reputation for integrity and personal credibility with an ax-wielding CSAF (who was bent on slashing “non-operational” career fields) ultimately carried the day and saved the Corps. Likewise, when ambitious politicos issued an executive order that would have severely compromised JAG independence by sublimating control and direction of the Corps to appointees with partisan political agendas, he unhesitatingly put his own career at risk and on the line to ensure that the Senate Armed Service Committee put a “stake in the heart” of that profoundly bad idea.

His dedication to the Air Force and the JAG Corps never wavered, and continued literally until his passing. He remained a tireless and fearless public advocate on JAG issues such as recurring “hostile takeover” attempts and the urgent need for TJAG to be a statutory three star, and was an active member of the JAG School Foundation and the Retired JAG Association to the very end. It's telling that during my last conversation with him just several weeks ago, he was far more interested in chatting about what was going on in the JAG Corps than any discussion of his own health prognosis.

Perhaps the thing I admired most about this great man was that there was absolutely nothing “phony” about him. His limitless passion for his family, for the Air Force, and for the JAG Corps was real, unconditional, and defiantly unapologetic. He was a man of relentlessly fierce conviction, and was imbued with as much integrity and moral courage as any human being I've ever known. I will miss him badly for as long as I live, but take enormous comfort in the knowledge that I am far richer for our association, and that the JAG Corps is infinitely stronger for his courageous and extraordinarily principled leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis and threat.

Godspeed and rest in peace, sir…and keep 'em in the fairway!

DATE OF BIRTH: 06/23/1935
DATE OF DEATH: 07/15/2008

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment