Walter "Dan" Druen, Jr.
Walter Daniel Druen Jr. (born January 24, 1927) was a lieutenant general in the United States Air Force who served as commander of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe and deputy commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Southern Area, with headquarters at Naples, Italy from July 1981 until his retirement in 1982.
Druen was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia. He began his military career in February 1944 as a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was released from military service in January 1947. He then attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg.
He returned to active duty and entered the aviation cadet program in November 1950. He received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant at Craig Air Force Base, Ala., in December 1951. Following graduation he attended advanced jet fighter training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and was assigned to South Korea where he served with the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Tactical Fighter Group. During this tour of duty, he flew 100 combat missions in F-86s.
Since then Druen had served almost entirely in tactical fighters, having been stationed at the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base; the 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Clark Air Base, Philippines; and Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. From Luke AFB, Druen attended the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va., and then had a tour of duty in the Plans and Operations Directorate at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., and after graduation in June 1968, was assigned to George Air Force Base, Calif. In August 1969 he was assigned as director of operations for the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where he logged 173 combat missions in F-4s.
Druen has commanded two tactical fighter wings, the 23rd at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and the 1st at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He was assigned as chief, Air Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Iran, for two years prior to his appointment as deputy commander and later commander of the Air Force Military Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Druen commanded 17th Air Force at Sembach Air Base, Germany. In August 1980 he transferred to Naples and took command of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe and 16th Air Force.
Druen has flown more than 5,000 hours in virtually all types of tactical aircraft, including F-4s, F-5s, F-15s, F-80s, F-86s, F-100s, F-104s, F-105s and A-10s. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
He was promoted to lieutenant general on August 1, 1980, with date of rank July 31, 1980. He retired on August 1, 1982.
- 2/1944-1/1947 U.S. Army Air Corps
- 11/1950-12/1951 Aviation cadet program, commissioned 2dLT, Craig AFB, AL
- 12/1951 Jet Fighter Training, Nellis AFB, NV (F-86)
- 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron/4th Tactical Fighter Group (F-86 -100 missions)
- Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, NV
- 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Clark AB, Philippines/Luke AFB, AZ
- Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, VA
- USAF Headquarters, Plans and Operations Directorate, Washington, D.C.
- 6/1968-8/1969 George AFB, CA
- 8/1969 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Director of operations, Ubon Royal Thai AFB, Thailand (F-4 – 173 missions)
- 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Commander, McConnell AFB, KS
- 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Commander, MacDill AFB, FL
- Chief Air Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Iran
- Deputy Commander/Commander, Air Force Military Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, TX
- 17th Air Force at Sembach AB, Germany
- 8/1980 16th Air Force, Commander, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, Naples, Italy
- 7/1981 Commander, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe /Deputy commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Southern Area, Naples, Italy
- 1982 Retired USAF
Awards & Decorations
Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with 14 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Flight hours: 5000+
Military & Civilian Education
- Fighter Weapons School
- Armed Forces Staff College
- 6/1968 Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA
Destination Clifford, A tale of one young man from Virginia, Valerius McGrady, who served honorably those last days of the Civil War with General Lee. He did not shirk his pledged duty.
The fighting at the battle of Petersburg was intense, it was evident the North would be the overall victors. But, the Confederate’s tenacity drove those cold and hungry men of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Appomattox Court House and surrender. Valerius, an eighteen-year-old sergeant, assumed command of his artillery unit after his officers had been killed. Through his dedication and determination, his unit made those heart-rending miles in the face of menacing opposition. They were there when the order came to stack guns and fold battle flags. Defeat was extremely difficult to accept.
Paroles were distributed, now the only way home was to walk. The journey for Valerius was arduous, but really the start of a new beginning. The risks and gains along the way only deepened his resolve to continue on to Clifford and the girl he had left behind.
When the trek ends, he has made some friends, lost some comrades, and eliminated an insidious enemy. He truly understands what it means to be alive.
Sherman Lead: Flying the F-4D Phantom II in Vietnam
by Gaillard R. Peck, Jr (Author), Walter D. Druen (Foreword), Gen (Ret.) Richard E. Hawley (Foreword)Written by a pilot who flew near-daily combat missions, this engrossing book is the story of one man, his colleagues and his machine, the mighty F-4 Phantom II, at war.
Sherman Lead is the gripping story of a year flying the F-4 in combat during the Vietnam War, told through the eyes of a fighter pilot. Operating out of Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand in 1968–69, Gail Peck and his squadronmates in the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing were tasked with flying combat missions into North Vietnam and Laos at this time as part of Operations Rolling Thunder and Steel Tiger.
The F-4 was heavily involved in the air-to-ground mission at this time, with targets being well defended by enemy anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles. Gail Peck’s arrival in theatre coincided with the beginning of electro-optical and laser-guided ‘smart’ bomb combat operations. There were periods of fierce combat interspersed with lulls, and the fighting was intense and unforgettable to those who participated. Some men lived through it, and others died without a clear understanding of why.