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Joseph John Kruzel


SS w/ 2 Oak Leaf Cluster/ PH/ DUC w/ Oak Leaf Cluster/ DFC w/ 2 Oak Leaf Cluster/ AM w/ 2 Oak Leaf Cluster

Major General Joseph J. Kruzel was deputy director of operations, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

General Kruzel was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1918. He graduated from the University of Scranton, Scranton, Pa., in 1938, with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and in 1939 was awarded a bachelor's degree in education from the same university. In May 1940 he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and after completing primary and basic flying training at Parks Air College, East St. Louis, Ill., and Randolph Field, Texas, was commissioned a second lieutenant and received his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in December 1940.

His first assignment as a commissioned pilot was at Clark Field in the Philippine Islands. He was stationed at Nichols Field, Manila, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Islands. During the early years of World War II, as a combat fighter pilot in northern Australia, Java and the Philippines, General Kruzel flew P-40 fighters, downed one Japanese Zero fighter and logged 175 combat hours.

In 1943 he became squadron commander and later deputy commander of the 361st Fighter Group at Richmond, Va., and went to England in November 1943 with the group, where he flew P-47 and P-51 aircraft. During his tour of duty in the European Theater of Operations he logged 325 combat hours, destroyed three German ME-109s and one FW-190 to become an American ace with four German and one Japanese fighter aircraft to his credit.

During 1945 General Kruzel was deputy base commander at Seymour-Johnson Field, N.C., which was a P-47 Combat Crew Training School and later a separation center. In January 1946 he attended the senior officer's Asiatic Study Course at Yale University.

He was assigned to the Air Office of the XXIV Corps, in Seoul, Korea, in April 1946. He served with Headquarters Far East Air Forces in Tokyo, Japan, from May 1947 to September 1947, followed by a tour of duty as commander of the reactivated 18th Fighter Group, which was equipped with P-47 and subsequently P-51 aircraft at Clark Field, Philippine Islands.

In 1949 General Kruzel attended the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and upon graduation was assigned to the War Plans Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He later attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, graduating in June 1954. He was retained at the Air War College as a member of the Evaluation Staff through May 1957.

In June 1957 General Kruzel was assigned as chief, War Plans Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, at Wiesbaden, Germany; and in January 1958 as chief, command post, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe, in Paris, France.

He returned to the United States in July 1960 and attended the National War College. He next was assigned as vice commander of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, equipped with F-100s, at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, S.C., and he became commander of the wing in April 1963. He assumed command of the 832nd Air Division, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., in January 1964.

In August 1965 General Kruzel was assigned to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, as director of operations and in August 1966 became deputy chief of staff for operations. In August 1968 he was assigned as vice commander of Fifth Air Force (PACAF) with headquarters at Fuchu Air Station, Japan.

General Kruzel returned to the United States and was assigned in August 1969 to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as deputy director of operations, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations.

His military decorations include the Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Bronze Star Medal.


Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 361st Fighter Group

    361st Fighter Group

    The 361st Fighter Group was the last P-47 Thunderbolt Group to join the Eighth Air Force. Between 21 January 1944 and 20 April 1945, the Group flew 441 missions, the majority in an escort role in support of bombers flying over occupied Europe. The...

  • 376th Fighter Squadron
  • Headquarters (361st Fighter Group)


Associated Place

  • Bottisham

    Military site : airfield
    The P-47 Thunderbolts of the 361st Fighter Group damaged the surfaces of the airfield so much in the first months of flying from Bottisham that American engineers were called in to lay a new runway. In January 1944 they constructed a 1,470-yard-long...


Event Location Date
Born Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 17 February 1918
Graduated University of Scranton, 800 Linden St, Scranton, PA 18510, USA 1938

University of Scranton
B.S. - Chemistry

Assigned Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines 8 December 1941

17th Pursuit Squadron
Nichols Field

Died Mary Esther, FL, USA 9 July 2002
Buried 26 August 2002

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 30 Lot 620


Date Contributor Update
30 October 2015 03:57:50 466thHistorian Changes to place associations

Date Contributor Update
30 October 2015 03:56:52 466thHistorian Changes to biography

Date Contributor Update
30 October 2015 03:56:07 466thHistorian Changes to awards

Date Contributor Update
30 October 2015 03:53:22 466thHistorian Changes to middlename, biography, events and media associations

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2015 22:49:12 Al_Skiff Changes to awards

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2015 22:26:17 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and aircraft associations

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2015 09:50:40 LWiart Changes to nickname and media associations


Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:17:20 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Who's Who in the Eighth Air Force and/or Biographical Directory Command & Staff Officers Eighth Air Force 1942-45