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John Koehler Gerhart


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)



  • Arthur Agan

    Military | Lieutenant General
    Chief, Tactical Operations, 8th Air Force, February 1942 to January 1944.

  • Claude Anderson

    Military | Lieutenant | Command Navigator | 95th Bomb Group
    95th Bomb Group, 412th Bomb Squadron April 44 to September 44, 35 missions with the Roy Gielen crew and then with the Lyle Scott crew. Returned to the states to train new crews, then went inactive while he returned to college and later medical school....

  • Edward Feldman

    Military | Sergeant
    Served in the staff of the Office of the Assistant G-3, 8th Air Force Headquarters.

  • Woodrow Green

    Military | Sergeant
    Served in the staff of the Office of the Assistant G-3, 8th Air Force Headquarters.

  • Douglas McCoy

    Military | Staff Sergeant
    Served in the staff of the Office of the Assistant G-3, 8th Air Force Headquarters.

  • Thomas Murphy

    Military | Sergeant
    Served in the staff of the Office of the Assistant G-3, 8th Air Force Headquarters.

  • Eugene Snavely

    Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    8th Air Force, G-3 Staff, September 1942 ...

  • Frederick Sutterlin

    Military | Brigadier General | Commanding Officer, Pilot | 100th Bomb Group
    Was sent to the 100th BG in Feb. 1945 to replace the Group Cmdr, served until end of war.

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Units served with

Associated Place

  • Elveden Hall

    Military site : non-airfield
    Elveden Hall, Brandon, Suffolk was used during the Second World War as a headquarters for the USAAF Third Air Division. Some evidence to suggest that the staff quarters were struck and destroyed by a bomb. ...

  • Mendlesham

    Military site : airfield
    Built in 1942-1943, Mendlesham's first flying unit was the RAF's No. 310 Squadron - a Czechoslovakian unit. The airfield then became home to the USAAF 34th Bomb Group. This unit flew missions from Mendlesham in B-24s and B-17s.


Event Location Date
Born Saginaw, MI, USA 27 November 1907
Graduated Chicago, IL, USA June 1928

University of Chicago

Group Commander Horham, Eye IP21, UK June 1943 – April 1944

95th Bomb Group

Wing Commander Mendlesham, Stowmarket IP14, UK April 1944 – May 1945

93rd Combat Bomb Wing

NORAD Commander Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, CO, USA 1 August 1962 – 1 May 1965

Appointed by President Kennedy as Commander of NORAD

Died Colorado Springs, CO, USA 9 January 1981
Buried U.S. Air Force Academy, CO 80840, USA 12 January 1981

United States Air Force Academy Cemetery
Colorado Springs
El Paso County
Colorado, USA
Plot: 003 C 076


Date Contributor Update
06 December 2020 02:07:41 decwriter Changes to awards

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.

Date Contributor Update
23 March 2018 14:25:56 Al_Skiff Changes to service number and awards

Date Contributor Update
19 November 2016 04:00:43 466thHistorian Changes to middlename, role, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations and media associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:21 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /