“Brigadier General Garry A. Willard Jr’s last assignment was as director of aerospace safety, Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, CA. He had worldwide responsibility for development and implementation of policies, standards and procedures for all Air Force safety except nuclear. The directorate mission is to conserve aerospace resources by preventing mishaps. The center is a separate operating agency and a function of The Inspector General, U.S. Air Force.
General Willard was born in Utica, N.Y., in 1928. He completed preparatory school at Oak Ridge Military Institute, N.C., in 1944; received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Syracuse University in 1952, and a master of science degree in international affairs from The George Washington University in 1970. He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and the National War College.
He began his military career in September 1944 as an enlisted member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, attended Virginia Military Institute for a year and then served as an infantryman with Headquarters 24th Corps in the Korean Army of Occupation in 1946. He was discharged from active duty in April 1947, and attended Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, N.C.
General Willard reentered active military duty in October 1948 as an aviation cadet, earning his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in September 1949. He was assigned as a jet fighter pilot with the 60th Fighter Squadron at Otis Air Force Base, Mass., and was relieved from active duty in May 1950. He served with the 138th Fighter Squadron, New York Air National Guard until March 1952, while attending Syracuse University earning a bachelor of science degree in business administration.
In March 1952, during the Korean War, he was assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, Suwon Air Base, Korea, where he completed 100 combat missions in F-86 aircraft, and is credited with one Mig destroyed and four damaged. In November 1952 he was assigned to Clovis Air Force Base, N.M., serving as a fighter pilot with the 120th and 10th fighter-bomber squadrons.
From July 1953 to October 1956, General Willard was a pilot and flight commander with the 390th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, England Air Force Base, La. During this period, he completed the fighter weapons instructor course; deployed with his squadron to Aviano Air Base, Italy, for seven months; and participated in the 1956 Tactical Air Command Fighter Weapons Meet at Wendover Air Force Base, Utah.
From October 1956 to September 1960, General Willard was a flight commander and assistant wing operations officer with the 83rd and 4th Tactical Fighter Wings, TAC, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. In October 1958 he won the Annual U.S. Air Force Conventional Fighter Weapons Meet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Next, he was assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam as an A-lH Skyraider pilot and commander of the Air Base Advisory Team at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, where he flew a variety of operational missions. In August 1962 he moved to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, as an F-105 pilot/flight commander. He next served two years as an operations/plans staff officer in Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
In August 1965 General Willard was transferred to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as an air operations staff officer at the USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center. In November 1965 he returned for a second combat tour in Southeast Asia as commander of the first F-100 Wild Weasel Squadron at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. The F-100 was the USAF pioneer of the Wild Weasel Combat Mission and had the highest loss rate of any fighter aircraft. Major Willard completed more than 100 missions and 250 combat hours in Southeast Asia.
Following this duty, be was assigned to the Tactical Fighter Weapons Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to organize and command the first Wild Weasel Training Squadron.
In February 1968 he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in the Directorate of Operational Requirements in the Wild Weasel Program, and later appointed project officer and program element monitor for the F-15 air superiority fighter, during its conceptual phase. He graduated from the National War College, Washington, D.C., in July 1970, and earned a master’s degree from The George Washington University.
His next assignments were as vice commander and subsequently commander of the F-105-equipped 23d Tactical Fighter Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. In June 1972 he became vice commander of the 314th Air Division at Osan Air Base, Korea.
In July 1973 General Willard was assigned as vice commander of Warner Robins Air Materiel Area, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. In July 1974 he assumed duties as deputy chief of staff, plans and operations, Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He became Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, J-3 (Plans and Operations), Headquarters United Nations Command/United States Forces, Seoul, Korea, in June 1975.
In July 1977 General Willard became director of aerospace safety, Air Force Inspection and Safety Center.
He is a command pilot with more than 5,700 flying hours, of which more than 4,800 are in jet aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation with three oak leaf clusters, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general Dec. 1, 1973, with date of rank Nov. 30, 1973 and retired from the USAF in January of 1980.
For more information on Garry Willard’s role in the Wild Weasel program go to: USAF pioneer of the Wild Weasel Combat Mission.