Paul A. Kauttu
General Kauttu was born in 1929, in Vancouver, Wash., where he attended Clark Junior College. He has also attended Washington State University and the University of Maryland, and received a bachelor’s degree in military science from the University of Omaha in 1962.
He graduated from Squadron Officer School in 1954; the Armed Forces Staff College in 1966; the National War College in 1968; and is completing advanced studies with The George Washington University.
General Kauttu received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant through the aviation cadet program at Randolph Field, Texas, and Williams Field, Ariz. He graduated in the F-80 Shooting Star in December 1951, then attended combat crew training in the F-86 Sabre Jet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
During the Korean War, General Kauttu flew 100 combat missions in the Sabre Jet while assigned to the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Suwon Air Base, Korea. He is credited with destroying two and a half Mig-15s, one probably destroyed, and three damaged.
General Kauttu left Korea in December 1952 and served briefly as an instructor with the 3544th Flying Training Squadron at Pinecastle Air Force Base, Fla. He then went to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where he was assigned from April 1953 to October 1955 as a fighter/gunnery and tactical instructor with the 3596th Combat Crew Training Squadron. It was during this period that he attended Squadron Officer School.
In October 1955 he returned to the Far East, was assigned to the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and served as a tactical fighter pilot and also as the leader of the Fifth Air Force F-86 aerobatic team, the Falcons. In August 1957 General Kauttu was transferred to Headquarters Fifth Air Force, Fuchu, Japan, and served as a staff officer in the Tactical Fighter Branch. While there, he planned tactical fighter weapon competitions and, as a member of the Fifth Air Force Standardization Evaluation Team, helped evaluate the performance of tactical fighter units located in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
In September 1959 General Kauttu was transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and assigned as the Tactical Air Command representative to Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command. In February 1962 he entered the University of Omaha, Neb., to complete his studies. After graduation in August 1962, he joined the famed U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as a slot pilot. In January 1964, he became Thunderbird leader and headed the team until January 1966. He participated in 279 official demonstrations, including the Paris Air Shows of 1963 and 1965.
In January 1966 General Kauttu entered the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va., and graduated in June 1966. He then joined the 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as an operations officer. While in Europe he served at Wheelus Air Base, Libya, as his wing’s detachment commander to the Tactical Weapons Center there. He also served as director of joint operations for the United States participation in the Paris Air Show of 1967.
General Kauttu returned to the United States in August 1967 and entered the National War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. After graduation in June 1968, he went to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as operations officer and commander of the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base. He flew 111 combat missions, including 30 over North Vietnam, in the F-4 Phantom II. In January 1969 he transferred to Phan Rang Air Base, where he became deputy commander for operations of the F-100-equipped 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. While with the 35th, he flew 110 close air support combat missions.
In August 1969 General Kauttu joined the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., as a member of the Southeast Asia Branch, Far East Division, J-5. In that assignment, he was selected to be the Joint Staff point of contact for the Symington Foreign Relations Subcommittee on U.S. Commitments Abroad. In May 1970, he assumed duties as deputy assistant for colonel assignments, Office of Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Two months later he became assistant for colonel assignments.
In February 1972 General Kauttu was transferred to Moody Air Force Base, Ga., as deputy commander for operations of the 3350th Pilot Training Wing, and in October 1972 he was selected to command the F-4D-equipped 3d Tactical Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Korea. In December 1973, he returned from the Far East and assumed duties as the vice commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Fighter Weapons Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He became vice commander of the Ninth Air Force in August 1975.
General Kauttu is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours in jet fighter aircraft, including the F-80, F-86, F-100, F-105, and the F-4. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 14 oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation Emblem, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with bronze star.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general effective Aug. 1, 1974, with the date of rank July 9, 1974. He retired from the USAF on June 1, 1977.
In 1998, Kauttu was one of five American Korean War combat pilots to face six Russians in Arlington, Va., during an unprecedented meeting geared toward helping the Russians account for missing fliers. (2)
Kauttu told the Russians the pilot ejected from the MiG he shot down south of Sinuiju, Korea, on Oct. 12, 1952. “I flew around him several times because his parachute and uniform intrigued me,” he said. “He waved at me on the way down and I waved back.”
The Russians told the American pilots that Russians flew about 75 percent of the enemy sorties in the Korean War.
“I didn’t know that. That puts a different perspective on the air war,” said Kauttu, who flew 100 missions in an F-86 with the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. He’s credited with two solo MiG-15 kills, one shared kill, and one probable.
“I’m really excited about the Russians wanting us to help find their pilots,” he said. “In a sense, those pilots are my friends. Anything we can do to help locate their remains or find out about the history of their loss will be great.”
(1) Source: https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/106606/brigadier-general-paul-a-kauttu/
(2) From an article in The Astorian, Brigadier General visits American Legion, receives membership, Dec 31, 2009, Updated Dec 7, 2018
- Received pilot wings/ commission 2Lt, Aviation cadet program, Randolph Field, TX/Williams Field, AZ
- 12/1951 Pilot Training (F-80 Shooting Star)
- Combat crew training, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (F-86)
- 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Suwon Air Base, Korea (F-86 – 100 missions/2.5 MiG’s destroyed)
- 12/1952 3544th Flying Training Squadron, IP, Pinecastle AFB, FL.
- 4/1953-10/1955 3596th Combat Crew Training Squadron, Fighter gunnery and tactical instructor, Nellis AFB, NV
- 10/1955 18th Tactical Fighter Wing, (Tactical fighter pilot/leader of the Fifth Air Force F-86 aerobatic team, “The Falcons”, Kadena AB, Okinawa”
- 8/1957 Headquarters Fifth Air Force, Staff Officer, Fuchu, Japan
- 9/ 1959 Tactical Air Command representative to Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
- 2/1962-8/1962 University of Omaha, NE
- 8/1962 joined U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as a slot pilot (F-100)
- 1/ 1964-1/1966 Thunderbirds leader (279 official demonstrations, including the Paris Air Shows of 1963 and 1965)
- 1/1966-6/1966 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA
- 7/1966 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany Wheelus Air Base, Libya
- 1967 Director of joint operations for the United States participation in the Paris Air Show of 1967
- 8/1967-6/1968 National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, DC
- 6/1968 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay AB, Vietnam (F-4 – 111 combat missions)
- 1/1969 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, Phan Rang AB, Vietnam
- 8/1969 Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC
- 5/1970, Headquarters USAF, Office of Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Washington, DC
- 2/1972 3350th Pilot Training Wing, Moody AFB, GA
- 10/1972 3d Tactical Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Commander, Kunsan AB, Korea (F-4D)
- 12/1973 Vice commander, USAF Tactical Fighter Weapons Center, Nellis AFB, NV
- 8/1975 Vice commander, Ninth Air Force
- 6/1/1977 Retired USAF
Awards & Decorations
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with 14 Oak Leaf Clusters
Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star
Military & Civilian Education
- 1954 Squadron Officer School
- 1966 Armed Forces Staff College
- 1968 National War College
- Clark Junior College
- Washington State University
- The University of Maryland
- 1962 BA/Military Science, University of Omaha
- The George Washington University
Thunderbirds Promotional Film, early 1970’s.