Jack C. Ledford – Brigadier General, United States Air Force

Retired October 1, 1970.  Died November 16, 2007

Brigadier General Jack C. Ledford wass commander of the 12th Strategic Aerospace Division, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

General Ledford was born in 1920, at Blairsville, Georgia. He graduated from Massanutten Military Academy, Woodstock, Virginia, in 1938, and attended Ohio State University, majoring in physics. He entered Army Air Corps aviation cadet training and upon graduation in October 1941 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

His first assignment was as flying instructor and flight commander at Goodfellow Field, Texas, prior to entering B-24 transition training. Six months later he became one of the first B-29 pilots when he joined the 45th Bombardment Squadron of the 40th Bombardment Group at Pratt, Kansas.

He went overseas with the 40th Group, flew 21 combat missions in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Air Medal. He became assistant group operations officer before returning to the United States in May 1945.

In 1945 General Ledford graduated with honors from the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and remained there as an instructor. In June 1946 he was transferred to Tyndall Field, Florida, serving as an instructor, and finally as a section chief in the Tactics Division at the Air Tactical School. During this time he attended Ohio State University and earned a bachelor of science degree.

General Ledford then began a series of assignments with the Strategic Air Command at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. He was a 7th Bombardment Wing operations and training staff officer before becoming a B-36 instructor pilot and executive officer with the 26th Bombardment Squadron, 11th Bombardment Group. He became chief of the Plans Section, Director of Plans, Eighth Air Force, in December 1950.

This was followed by duty at Sandia Base, New Mexico, first as officer in charge of the Bomber Commander's School and later leading the Special Weapons Unit Training Group of the same organization.

After a tour as special weapons adviser for British Royal Air Force units in Germany, he became commander of Etain Air Base, France, in September 1956. His final assignment in Europe was as director of materiel, 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

In August 1958 General Ledford was assigned as deputy chief of staff for weapons effects and tests, Headquarters Defense Atomic Support Agency, Washington, D.C. He left this position in 1961 to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, graduating with distinction in August 1962. During his Washington tour of duty he earned a master of business administration in management from The George Washington University.

In September 1962 he was assigned as an air commander with the 1040th U.S. Air Force Field Activity Squadron at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., and then became director of special projects, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In this position he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

General Ledford was Director of Inspection, U.S. Air Force, Norton Air Force Base, California, from August 1966 to July 1968. As one of the three directors assigned to the deputy inspector general for inspection and safety, he was responsible for monitoring the combat readiness and management efficiency of the U.S. Air Force. He received the Legion of Merit for his work in the inspector general's office.

General Ledford assumed command of the 12th Strategic Aerospace Division, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in July 1968.

In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Air Medal, his military decorations include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, the Cravat Medal of Cloud and Banner (China), and the Special Breast Order of Yun Hui (China). A command pilot, he also wears the Senior Missileman Badge.

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Jack C. Ledford, Captain (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a B-29 Very Heavy Bomber in the XX Bomber Command, TWENTIETH Air Force, while participating in a bombing mission on 25 October 1944, against enemy targets in Japan.

On this date Captain Ledford was assigned a mission against Omura, Kyushu Island, Japan. Shortly after dropping his bombs Captain Ledford's plane was attacked by Japanese fighters. Captain Ledford was badly wounded, and his flight engineer, Master Sergeant Harry C. Miller, was wounded in the head. Captain Ledford refused medical aid for himself until the engineer had been treated. He handled the engineer's fuel transfer system for nearly an hour until loss of blood forced him to stop. He then accepted aid but declined an opiate to keep his head clear.

When the loss of fuel caused abandonment of the ship, Ledford aided the crew in ripping open an extra parachute. The shroud lines were cut off one end on one of them and was attached to the navigator's table, the other to Miller's rip cord. The unconscious engineer was dropped through the nose wheel well. The scheme worked. The static cord grew taut and the parachute blossomed open. Captain Ledford then jumped but delayed opening his chute to be near Miller when he landed. Despite the pilot's effort, Sergeant Miller died shortly after he had been carried to an emergency hospital by Chinese soldiers. Captain Ledford's wounds were treated and several days later he and his crew returned to their western China base.

The personal courage and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Ledford on this occasion have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 20th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

Generakl Ledford was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on 31 January 2008.

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