Major General John J. Pesch was the Director of the Air National Guard from 20 April 1974 to 31 January 1977. He was a combat pilot with the Eighth Air Force in Europe during World War Two. In 1947, he became a charter member of the Maine Air National Guard's 132d Fighter Interceptor Squadron. During the Korean War, General Pesch served on active duty as the Chief, Fighter Branch, Twelfth Air Force in Germany. He returned to the Maine ANG in 1952 as Director of Operations for the 101st Fighter Interceptor Group. From 1959 to 1966, General Pesch served numerous active duty assignments including Assistant Director of Operations to the Air Defense Command. It was in 1966 when General Pesch first reported to the National Guard Bureau as the Deputy Director of the Air National Guard and served in this position until his assignment to Director in 1974.
As Director of the Air National Guard, Major General Pesch guided the Air National Guard through the pivotal years of the Cold War and the post Vietnam War era. General Pesch initiated an aggressive plan to convince the US Air Force that the Air National Guard was a highly capable professional combat ready organization. In pursuit of this objective, he helped bring the Air National Guard into the newly created Total Force concept by further merging Air National Guard capabilities into national defense strategies pertaining to tactical and strategic airpower. In addition, General Pesch oversaw the final years of Operation Creek Party, a coordinated Air National Guard, Strategic Air Command, and United States Air Force in Europe air-refueling operation for European based tactical fighter aircraft. Under General Pesch's leadership and vision, Operation Creek Party was one example of the professional combat ready force the Air National Guard demonstrated in their ability to deploy entire units across the Atlantic without incident or accident.
David P. Anderson
Air National Guard History Program
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