Thomas H. McMullen – Lieutenant General, United States Air Force



Retired July 1, 1986. Died May 19, 2009.

Lieutenant General Thomas H. McMullen was commander of Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

General McMullen was born in 1929, in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Alamo Heights High School, San Antonio, Texas. He attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1951 with a bachelor of science degree in military engineering and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He received a master of science degree in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in 1964; master of science degree in administration from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1971; and graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1971.

After graduating from the academy, General McMullen entered pilot training at Hondo Air Base, Texas, and received his pilot wings at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas, in August 1952. He then completed fighter combat crew training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. In December 1952 he was assigned to the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Suwon, South Korea. While in Korea he served as a flight commander and flew 78 combat missions in F-86s.

In November 1953 General McMullen went to Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, as a flight test maintenance officer. He test flew about 30 types of aircraft after they had undergone depot maintenance. In 1959 he joined the General Dynamics Air Force Plant Representative Office in Fort Worth, Texas, and for the next three years was a B-58 flight test acceptance pilot.

He entered the Air Force Institute of Technology in September 1962 and two years later, following graduation, was assigned to the Space Systems Division at Los Angeles Air Force Station, California, as project officer in the Gemini Launch Vehicle System Program Office. He managed the effort for real-time monitoring of slow guidance malfunctions, abort situations and crew safety during boosted flight in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Gemini program.

The General went to the Republic of Vietnam in February 1967 as air liaison officer for the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi and flew more than 450 combat missions in 0-1 Bird Dogs. In March 1968 General McMullen joined National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters, Washington, D.C., as Assistant Mission Director of the Apollo Program. He assisted in coordinating the preparation of Apollo space vehicles for flight, and for training ground and flight crews for missions six through 13.

He graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in August 1971 and was assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as Deputy System Program Director of the B-1 development program. In June 1973 he was assigned as the system program director of the A-10 close air support aircraft. General McMullen managed the A-10 through the development and initial production phases.

General McMullen became vice commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in December 1974 and took command in September 1975. He served as Deputy Chief of Staff for requirements, Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, from October 1976 to March 1979. He then was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Systems, Air Force Systems Command, with headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. In July 1980 General McMullen returned to Langley Air Force Base as Tactical Air Command’s Vice Commander. He assumed his final command in August 1982.

The General is a command pilot with more than 7,300 flying hours in 46 types of aircraft and wears the master missile badge. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation emblem, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with “V” device and oak leaf cluster, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award ribbon with oak leaf cluster, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm. He also received the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exceptional Service Medal and two Group Achievement Awards for the Apollo program. He is a life and hereditary member of the Order of Daedalians; an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; a registered professional engineer in Ohio; and a member of Tau Beta Pi National Honor Society.

He was promoted to Lieutenant General July 1, 1980, with same date of rank.

General McMullen is the son of Major General Clements McMullen, now deceased, an Air Force pioneer.  His Father is buried in the Fort Sam Houston, Texas, National Cemetery.

The General was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 28 August 2009 following services in the Fort Myer, Virginia, Post Chapel.

Lieutenant General Thomas H. McMullen, United States Air Force (Retired). Died peacefully in Sterling, Virginia, on May 19, 2009. He is survived by his wife Clara; daughter, Sue; sons Tom and Jack, and four grandchildren.

Funeral services for Thomas H. McMullen will be held on Friday, August 28, at 11 a.m. at Fort Myer Old Post Chapel. Interment immediately following at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 19903, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433. Please include the name of the honoree and your name and address. You may also donate online at

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