Former 552 ACW commander to be inducted into Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

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  • By Staff Report
A former commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing and two World War II fighter pilots who later served in the Air Force will be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame next month.

The induction ceremony, which will recognize seven other honorees, will be held Nov. 8 at the Oklahoma Tower Hotel, formerly the Marriott, at 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 7 p.m.
Maj. Gen. Jerry D. Holmes became commander of the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing at Tinker AFB in July 1981. He was born in Jenks and raised in Wewoka.

General Holmes, a combat pilot and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is now an adjunct professor in the OU College of Engineering. He also works with U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe as a military adviser and liaison to military installations in Oklahoma.

From October 1969 to October 1970, General Holmes flew 135 combat missions over Vietnam in the RF-101 Voodoo and the RF-4 Phantom.

While in Vietnam, the general was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying an unarmed reconnaissance mission over a heavily defended target in Laos to obtain vital photographic intelligence.

Despite adverse weather and an extremely hostile environment, General Holmes skillfully and aggressively obtained complete photographic coverage of the assigned target, his medal citation said.

After stops at the Pentagon, South Carolina and Idaho, General Holmes' final assignment was as commander of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Airborne Early Warning Force, headquartered in Belgium.

He was promoted to major general in November 1984.

Brig. Gen. James R. "Robbie" Risner enlisted in the U.S. Army's aviation program in 1943 and earned his pilot wings in May 1944. He flew P-38 Lightnings and P-39 Air Cobras in Panama during the war.

He joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1946. Recalled to duty in 1951, he flew 110 combat fighter missions during the Korean War. He destroyed eight MIG-15s in aerial combat, becoming the 20th jet ace of that war.

Remaining with the Air Force, General Risner's F-105 Thunderchief was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. He was taken prisoner in 1965 and released in 1973. He is honored with a 9-foot tall statue of him at the Air Force Academy.

General Risner was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1974 and retired from the Air Force in 1976. He died last year and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Born in Tulsa, Capt. Joseph H. Powers was a fighter pilot ace during World War II. He was attending the University of Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Captain Powers entered the U.S. Army Air Forces and was assigned to a fighter squadron in Halesworth, England. He became an ace flying a P-47C in 1943. Captain Powers officially was credited with shooting down 14.5 enemy aircraft by the time World War II ended.

Serving in the Air Force in the Korean War, he was flying a P-51 Mustang in support of ground units during his last mission on Jan. 18, 1951, when he was shot down by the enemy.