26 June 1969 – Capt John Casper was serving with the 413th TFS out of Phan Rang AB, Vietnam. On a mission to detect VietCong...Read More
Charles G. Cleveland
In 2008, Chick was recognized by the Air Force as its 40th jet fighter ace of the Korean War 55 years after the armistice of July 1953. Newly discovered documentation from the Russian Air Force, as well as eyewitness accounts by Cleveland’s wingmen, provided evidence to support converting one of his ‘two probably destroyed’ into his fifth confirmed kill from dog fights over Mig Alley during the Korean War.
In October 2008, he was awarded a Silver Star for action in Korea on September 21, 1952.
Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland (born November 13, 1927) is a retired American Air Force lieutenant general and flying ace who was commander of the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Chick was born in Honolulu in 1927. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1949, earned his master’s degree in political science at Xavier University, Cincinnati, in 1966, and completed the advanced management program at Harvard University in 1969.
He entered Air Force basic pilot training in June 1949 Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and received his wings in September 1950 upon completion of advanced pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. He then served as a pilot with the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia.
Cleveland transferred to South Korea in March 1952, where he flew F-86s as a flight commander with the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Kimpo Air Base. During his combat tour of duty, he shot down five MiG-15s and is credited with one probably destroyed and four damaged.
He returned to Turner Air Force Base in November 1952, where he again served in the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing. In July 1957 he transferred to Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas. While there he served in various operations assignments with the 27th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 522nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron and the 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Cleveland went to England in February 1959 as a flight commander and operations officer in the 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Woodbridge. From 1962 to 1963, he commanded the 92nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Bentwaters. He then returned to the United States and served at the Tactical Air Command Systems Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as F-111 project officer. In May 1966 he transferred to the Republic of Vietnam as executive assistant to General William Westmoreland, commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.
Returning to England in June 1967, he became a student at the Royal Air Force College of Air Warfare, the top RAF service school. Upon graduation in December 1967, he went to RAF Bentwaters, England, where he became special assistant to the director of operations for the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing. In July 1968 he was assigned to the staff of Headquarters Third Air Force at RAF South Ruislip, England. He served there as director of tactical evaluation, and then as special assistant for F-111 matters. Cleveland became vice commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Upper Heyford, England, in April 1970. During this period the wing converted from F-100s to F-111s.
In June 1971 Cleveland assumed command of the 3535th Navigator Training Wing at Mather Air Force Base, California. He headed the U.S. Air Force School of Navigation there. He transferred to Air Training Command headquarters at Randolph Air Force Base as chief of staff.
In June 1972, and assumed duties as deputy chief of staff for technical training in February 1974. In July 1975 he became director of personnel programs, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower and Personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He was named vice commander of Air Training Command in March 1979, and assumed his present command in July 1981.
He is a command pilot with more than 4,300 flying hours, including more than 3,700 in jet aircraft, such as F-80s, F-84s, F-86s, F-100s, F-101s, F-4s and F-111s. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force), Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit, Chung Mu.
He was promoted to Lieutenant General on August 1, 1981, with date of rank July 28, 1981.
Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland, LtGen USAF, Ret., “Headed West” on May 22, 2021.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 13, 1927, Charles Goold Cleveland grew up in Woodstock and Albany, New York. He graduated from the United States Military Academy and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force in June of 1949. While at West Point, he met and married his wife of 54 years, Frances Riedel, from East Orange, NJ.
Upon graduation, Cleveland applied for a combat assignment in Korea and was moved to an F-86 unit. Assigned to the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Kimpo Air Base, Korea, he gained credit for four MiG-15s destroyed, two probables, and four damaged.
On 11 April 2000, Gen. Cleveland was officially recognized as a fighter Ace, meaning five aerial combat victories, by the American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA), following a lengthy review of one of his probable victories. Additional confirmation by the Air Force would come from Russian archives. This confirmation by the AFAA and the USAF made General Cleveland the 40th jet Ace of the Korean War.
Cleveland held numerous command and staff positions including a tour as executive assistant to General Westmoreland in Vietnam in 1966/67. He held senior leadership positions including Commander, Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from which he retired in 1984 as a lieutenant general. His logbook reflects 4500 flying hours and 145 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam.
His decorations include: Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit, and the Silver Star. In 2015, Cleveland was one of 77 Aces to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony in Washington DC.
Life After Military
Following retirement, Chick Cleveland was appointed as the Commissioner of Human Resources for the State of Alabama after working as the Executive Director of the Montgomery Area United Way. It was during his second retirement that Cleveland’s love for his community was most evident. He was the founder of the Montgomery Area Food Bank, Kids and Kops Day, and SAYNO, a drug awareness organization. He was an original member of the unifying organization One Montgomery and an early graduate of Leadership Montgomery.
While he focused his efforts on serving the underserved and underrepresented populations in the Montgomery area, he had many other interests. He strongly championed Fran’s love of the Arts, remaining a faithful supporter of Landmarks, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and other arts organizations. His two favorite endeavors in the later years of his life were the Alabama World Affairs Council and the American Fighter Aces Association. He was president of each for nearly a decade. His passion, however, was tennis, which he played religiously until he was 93 years old.
Charles Cleveland is survived by his son, Christopher Cleveland, his daughters, Jane Cleveland, Alice Prince, and Susan McCarron, and by many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Fran Cleveland, nee Riedel.”
A memorial service was held at Leak Memory Chapel in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 27, 2021. In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift can be made to the American Fighter Aces Association in his name.
General Cleveland’s body will be interred in the Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined. Online condolences may be shared at: www.Leak-MC.com
- 11/1952 31st Strategic Fighter Wing, Turner AFB, GA
- 7/1957 27th Fighter-Bomber Wing, Bergstrom AFB, TX
- 522nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron
- 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron
- 2/1959 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Woodbridge, England
- 1962 to 1963 92nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Bentwaters, EnglandTactical Air Command Systems Office at
- Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
- 6/1967 Royal Air Force College of Air Warfare
- 12/1967 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, Bentwaters, England
- 7/1968 Headquarters Third Air Force at RAF South Ruislip, England
- 4/1970 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Upper Heyford, England
- 6/1971 3535th Navigator Training Wing, Mather AFB, CA
- 1972-1974 Air Training Command headquarters at Randolph AFB, chief of staff.
- 7/1975 U.S. Air Force, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower and Personnel, Headquarters, Washington, D.C (Director of Personnel Programs)
- 3/1979 Air Training Command
- 7/1981 Promoted to Lieutenant General
Awards & Decorations
Congressional Gold Medal
Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
AF Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit, Chung Mu
Flight Hours: 4,300+ flying hours, 3700 in jet aircraft
Military & Civilian Education
- 1949 US Military Academy, West Point, NY
- 1966 MA, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
- 1969 Advanced Management, Harvard University, Boston, MA
- Harvard AMP