Joseph Hillner, Jr.
I received my wings at Luke AFB, NM in Class 53G, and went on to training in the F-84 D, E, and G.
In April of 1953 I was sent to Bergstrom AFB in Texas to fly the F-84F with the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing. However, the F was grounded most of the time, and we got our time as co-pilots in KB-29 Tankers.
After tours in Korea, Japan, and France, I went on rotation to Kelly AFB, TX with the 1708 Ferrying Wing Detachment 12, where I flew simultaneously in the T-6, T-28, T-33, F-86 A, E, & F, and the L-20. The Wing was deactivated in the Spring of 1958.
I ended up in Supply School in Cheyenne, WY then on Chaumont France with the 48th Tactical Fighter Group. Before signing in at Chaumont I ran into my first Squadron CO at Bergstrom, Lt Col Al Fell, who introduced me to Col Bruce Hinton, 48th DO. He got me released from the M&S Group CO and sent me to the 494th TFS, flying F-100 D, and F.
We transferred to RAF Lakenheath in January of 1960. I rotated to Cannon AFB. NM, with the 523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron/27th Tactical Fighter Wing, for the second time (Austin and F-84F the first).
I went to US Army Parachute School while stationed at Cannon, then PCS to Ft. Riley, KS as a hardcore ALO/FAC. My tour in Viet Nam started via rail and water with the Big Red One from Ft. Riley, flying the O-1 Bird Dog.
I then returned temporarily to Ft. Riley, then PCS to TAC Headquarters and a tour with Fighter Ops. In the Summer of 1969, PCS to Torrejon AB, Spain, and became CO of the F-4 E Fighter Squadron until promotion to full Colonel and subsequent PCS as Base Commander of Aviano AB, Italy.
After rotation back to ZI in 1972 and attendance in AWC, I retired in 1973 while attending AWC. It was a wonderful 20+ years in USAF.
Colonel Joseph John Hillner, Jr., USAF (Ret), 89, of San Antonio, “Headed West” on February 9, 2020 in San Antonio. Committal services were held with military honors on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at Ft. Sam Houston Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
Joseph was born on December 9, 1930 in St. Louis, Missouri to the late Joseph, Sr. and Sylvia (Kumbera) Hillner. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1952 where he became a decorated fighter pilot and was stationed all over the world eventually becoming Base Commander of Aviano AFB, Italy.
Joseph served our country faithfully for over 21 years before he retired in 1973 in San Antonio, Texas. After his retirement, Joseph worked in the financial services industry as a consultant. He and Lucille Lee Kaelin were married on June 28, 1995 in San Antonio, Texas.
Joseph was preceded in death by one son, Jeffrey. He is survived by his wife, Lucille, two sons; three step-daughters; a step-son; nine grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.
- 5/1952 Commissioned via USAF ROTC
- 8/1952 Primary Pilot Training, Hondo AB, TX
- 12/1953 Class ‘53G, Basic Pilot Training, Foster AFB, TX (Received my wings)
- 1/1954-4/1954 F-84 Training, Luke AFB, AZ (F-84 D/E/G)
- 4/1954 27th Strategic Fighter Wing, Bergstrom AFB, TX to (F-84F/KB-29)
- 7/1954 Japanese Air Defense, Fuchu, Japan (F-84)
- 1954 58th/474th Fighter-Bomber Squadron/58th Fighter-Bomber Wing, K-2 Korea (F-86F)
- 1955 1708 Ferrying Wing Detachment, Kelly AFB, TX (T-6, T-28, T-33, F-86 A/E/F, L-20)
- 1958 Supply School in Cheyenne, WY
1959 48th Tactical Fighter Wing/494th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Chaumont AB, France
- 1/1960 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Lakenheath AB, England (F-100 D/F)
- 523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron/27th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cannon AFB, NM (F-84F, F-100)
- US Army Parachute School, Cannon AFB, NM
- ALO/FAC Ft. Riley, KS as a hardcore ALO/FAC
Ft. Riley/Viet Nam via rail and water with the Big Red One (O-1 Bird Dog)
- 1969, PCS, CO of F-4 fighter Squadron, Torrejon AB, Spain and CO of the (F-4 E)
- Base Commander, Aviano AB, Italy.
- 1972 AWC
- 1973 Retired USAF
Awards & Decorations
Military & Civilian Education
- Primary/Basic Pilot Training
- US Army Parachute School
- 1948 St. Louis University High School
- 6/1952 St. Louis University