John Koehler Gerhart


Object Number - UPL 32362 - "Brig General John K Gerhart of the 93rd Combat Wing, 8th Air Force. 18-Apr-45 England."

Retired from the USAF in 1965 as a 4-star General

US Air Force General. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he graduated from the University of Chicago in 1928 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He joined the Army Air Corps Reserves and was commissioned a second lieutenant on October 12, 1929 after graduating from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field (Now Kelly Air Force Base), Texas. His first tour of duty was at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, followed by various assignments, including several years as a flight test pilot in both powered and glider aircraft. He then graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School in April 1941. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the newly formed 8th Air Force. He went to England in July 1942 with the first contingent of the 8th Air Force, and in June 1943, he assumed command of the 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, and later he became commander of the 93rd Combat Bomb Wing, comprising of four groups of B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft. After the end of World War II, he returned to London, England, and Paris, France, as an air advisor to the American Delegation who were involved with the major allied nations in drafting the Balkan and Italian peace treaties. He returned to the United States, Washington DC, in January 1947, where he served as the director of the Legislative and Liaison Division, chief of statistical services, in the Office of the Comptroller, and as the chief of staff of Joint Task Force Three, which conducted the first thermonuclear tests in the Pacific at Eniwetok Atoll, in the spring of 1951. During his tour of duty with the Office of the Comptroller, he attend and graduated from Harvard Business School. In March 1953, he was appointed as Joint Chiefs of Staff advisor to the Planning Board of the National Security Council and two years later, he was designated as the chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group to the United Kingdom. A year later he became the commander of the US 12th Air Force, US Air Forces Europe, in Germany. Returning to the United States in July 1957, he became the first deputy chief of staff, plans and programs, at Headquarters US Air Force, Washington DC. On August 1, 1962, he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to be the commander in chief of the North American Air Defense Command. He was promoted to the rank of general on June 29, 1962 and retired on March 1, 1965, with 36 years of active and reserve service with the Army and Air Force. Among his decorations include the Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the French Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm. The General John K. Gerhart Fellowship, a two-year study program in Paris, France, provided by the US Air Force Academy for the benefit of one or two US Air Force Academy graduates per year, is named in his honor. (bio by: William Bjornstad)


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Units served with

The insignia of the 95th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: Eighth Air Force
  • Service Numbers: O-22381
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant General
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 335th Bomb Squadron 336th Bomb Squadron 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: Eighth Air Force
  • Service Numbers: 13029610
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: Eighth Air Force
  • Service Numbers: 14031174
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: Eighth Air Force
  • Service Numbers: 31242424
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant



Event Location Date Description


Saginaw, MI, USA 1907-11-27



Chicago, IL, USA University of Chicago


Group Commander

Horham, Eye IP21, UK 95th Bomb Group


Wing Commander

Mendlesham, Stowmarket IP14, UK 93rd Combat Bomb Wing


NORAD Commander

Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, CO, USA 1962-08-01 - 1965-05-01 Appointed by President Kennedy as Commander of NORAD


Colorado Springs, CO, USA 1981-01-09


U.S. Air Force Academy, CO 80840, USA 1981-01-12 United States Air Force Academy Cemetery Colorado Springs El Paso County Colorado, USA Plot: 003 C 076


Date6 Dec 2020 02:07:41

General Gerhart earned the Distinguished Service Medal - Army as the Air Force delayed their own version until after he retired. Per his official bio photo, he wore the Air Force Longevity Service award with 7 oak leaf clusters, which reflects 1 silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters. He earned one Air Medal during WW II as a colonel, but his bio pic reflects three oaf leaf clusters, yet references two oak leaf clusters in the bio narrative. His photo as a colonel reflects the EAME Campaign Medal with two bronze stars.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:16:21

John Koehler Gerhart: Gallery (4 items)