Hoyt S. Vandenberg Jr.’s major claim to fame is being the son of the four star United States Air Force general, Hoyt S. Vandenberg of World War II fame. In fairness to Hoyt Vandenberg Jr., he did manage to become a major general, also known as a two star general, in the United States Air Force, following in his father’s footsteps. Hoyt Vandenberg Jr., was born in 1928, in Riverside, California, and graduated from Western High School in Washington D. C. Following high school graduation, he was able to get admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduated from there in June 1951.
Following graduation from the Military Academy, Vandenberg underwent pilot training, flying the F-86 fighter plane, at Hondo Field, Texas, at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. In November 1953, Vandenberg was assigned to the 86th Fighter-bomber Wing in Germany as a fighter pilot and flight commander. He returned to the United States in 1957, and served as flight commander with the 413th and 31st Tactical Fighter Wings at George Air Base in California.
In June 1961, Vandenberg completed Air Command and Staff College, and then was assigned to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. He returned to Germany in 1963, and served successively as operations officer with the 23d Tactical Fighter Squadron, commander of the 36th Organizational Maintenance Squadron, and commander of the 53d Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Following the start of the Viet Nam War, Vandenberg went to Viet Nam in 1966, and remained there for about a year. He commanded the 390th “Blue Boars” Tactical Fighter Squadron at Da Nang Air Base. During his Viet Nam stint, he flew 100 missions over North Viet Nam.
Following his Viet Nam service, Vandenberg was assigned to the Headquarters Staff of the Air Force in the Pentagon. While there he was able to return to the National War College to complete studies for his M. S. degree, which he was awarded in August, 1969. He then returned to the Pentagon for duty with the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Following several years of Pentagon service, in 1971, Vandenberg became commander of the 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. In the following year, in 1972, he was appointed vice commandant of cadets at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. In the following year he became the commander of the cadets, and remained at the Air Force Academy until the end of August 1975.
On September 1, 1975, Vandenberg was promoted to major general. Since that rank is one rank higher than brigadier general, there is no information on which date he became a brigadier general. Between September 1, 1975 and January 1976, Vandenberg served as Chief, Armish Military Assistance Advisory Group in Tehran, Iran. Following the Iran assignment, he was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters United States Air Force, where he served in several positions until his retirement on January 1, 1981.
During his entire Air Force career, Vandenberg, as a command pilot, flew more than 5000 hours in the F-80, the F-86, the F-105, and the F-4 fighters and in the T-33, the T-37, the T-38 and the CT-19 trainers.
Military leaders who reach the rank of general usually will have earned many decorations and awards. Vandenberg’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation Emblem, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, the Combat Readiness Medal, the Republic of Viet Nam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge.
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