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Richard Francis Shaefer


Lieutenant General Richard F. Shaefer is deputy chairman, NATO Military Committee at Brussels, Belgium.

General Shaefer was born in Lansing, Mich., in 1919, and graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1940 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. Following graduation from the university, he entered aviation cadet training and a few weeks later received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He completed flying training during his last year and graduated from the academy in June 1943.

During World War II he served as a combat pilot and squadron commander with Ninth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations. At the end of the war, he returned to the United States and served for a short time as director of flying for the Twin-Engine Training Program. He then returned to the U.S. Military Academy where he served as an instructor from 1946 to 1949.

In July 1949 he was assigned to the War Plans Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In January 1953 he entered the United Kingdom Joint Services Staff College. He next was assigned to the 20th Fighter Bomber Wing, which was operating in Europe out of bases in the United Kingdom, and during that assignment commanded an F-84 and a B-45 composite jet task force which was temporarily deployed to Greece. In June 1954 he became director of plans for the 49th Air Division in England.

General Shaefer returned to the United States in January 1956 and was assigned as director of operations, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif., where he participated in strategic, tactical, technical and policy studies. He was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in June 1958 where he served as chief, Foreign Requirements Division in the Directorate of Requirements.

Upon establishment of the Joint Staff in September 1958 he was assigned to the Joint Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5), Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During this period, in addition to normal joint planning responsibilities, he was specifically designated as the representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on several Presidential special planning committees and boards. He attended the National War College, Washington, D.C., from August 1961 to June 1962.

General Shaefer was then assigned to the U.S. Delegation, NATO Military Committee and Standing Group, with international planning responsibilities in the fields of strategy, policy and political affairs; in September 1964 he became the first deputy director for plans of the NATO Military Committee's International Military Staff.

General Shaefer was assigned as vice commander of the Third Air Force, South Ruislip, England, in July 1965. Two years later, he moved to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he became chief of staff for Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

From Europe he was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam, where he assumed duties as assistant chief of staff for plans, J-5, U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, in July 1968.

In May 1970 he returned to the United States as deputy director for plans and policy (J-5), Joint Staff, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Shaefer reported to SHAPE for duty as assistant chief of staff, operations, in October 1971, and became the deputy chairman, NATO Military Committee in September 1974.

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, the Croix de Guerre with silver star (France), the Korean Chung Mu, the Thai Order of the White Elephant, and the Vietnamese National Military and Distinguished Service Orders. He is a command pilot and is jet qualified.

He was promoted to the grade of lieutenant general effective Sept. 1, 1974, with date of rank Aug. 26, 1974



  • Theodore Aylesworth

    Military | Colonel | Pilot - Deputy Grp Commander - Group Commander | 416th Bomb Group

  • Jack Burg

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier/Navigator | 416th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 668BS, 416BG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Munstereifel took direct flak hit to bomb bay Killed in Action (KIA) 25-Dec-44 MACR 12016. Awards: DFC, AM (OLC), PH, EAME, American Campaign Medal.

  • Arnold Burland

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Aerial Gunner

  • William Donahue

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Aerial Gunner | 416th Bomb Group

  • Arvid Hand

    Military | Captain | Bombardier/Navigator | 416th Bomb Group

  • Leo Roman

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier/Navigator | 416th Bomb Group
    2nd Lieutenant Leo J. Roman was born January 19, 1922. His next of kin were his mother, Josephine Roman, and his brother, John Roman. He was from New Britain, Connecticut. ...

Show more

Units served with


  • 43-21717

    A-20 Havoc
    Assigned to 668BS, 416BG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Ahutte Railhead. Hit by flak over target, seen to be spinning end over end. Crashed near Schuller, Germany [4 x KIA] 25-Dec-44. MACR 11668. ...

  • 43-9450 Holey Joe

    A-20 Havoc
    Crashed after mid-air collision with A-20G (43-21483) on a routine training flight at Thorny Toll, Cambridgeshire on 30 August 1944. Pilot 2Lt John D. Smith was killed.

  • 43-9745 Sugar Baby

    A-20 Havoc

  • 41-39218

    A-26 Invader

  • 43-22609

    A-26 Invader

  • 43-22508

    A-26 Invader

  • 43-9892

    A-20 Havoc

Associated Place

  • Wethersfield

    Military site : airfield
    Planned in 1942 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, Wethersfield was then supposed to be loaned to the RAF in 1943, but was re-allocated to the Ninth Air Force by the time it was complete. Built during 1943-44, it had three concrete runways, 49 loop...

  • Laon/Athies

    Military site : airfield

  • Melun

    Military site : airfield


Event Location Date
Born Lansing, Michigan 30 December 1919
Graduated West Point, New York June 1943

United States Military Academy

One of 18 USMA grads assigned directly to the 416th BG

First 416th BG Combat Mission Conches, France 6 March 1944
Wounded In Action/Purple Heart St. Hilaire, France 29 June 1944

General Orders No. 118, 3 July 1944, Purple Heart is awarded to: 416th Bombardment Group (L), Headquarters, Richard F. Shaefer, O-25866, First Lieutenant, Air Corps, United States Army. For wounds received while serving as Pilot on an A-20 airplane on 29 June 1944. Entered military service at Raton, New Mexico.

Appointed Squadron Commander Laon/Athies Airfield, France April 1945

CO of the 669th BS

Final 416th BG Combat Mission Stod, Czech Republic 3 May 1945
Vice Commander 3rd Air Force South Ruislip, UK July 1965
Promoted to LT. General Brussels, Belgium 26 August 1974
Died San Antonio, Texas 14 February 2001
Buried Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery 17 February 2001

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Section 27 Site 548


Date Contributor Update
10 April 2021 20:49:46 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, person associations, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations