Brig. Gen. William F. Hutchison
William F. Hutchison (Brig Gen. ret.) served in the Delaware Air National Guard
(DANG) for more than three decades and flew combat in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
He was air commander of the DANG from 1972 through 1983.
His aviation career began at the University of Delaware where he was a member of the
ROTC. After graduation in 1949 he joined the Guard and entered Air Force pilot
training. Dispatched to Korea in 1951, he flew 87 combat missions in F-84s. He led
repeated raids through intense enemy fire, often returning with holes in fuselage and
wings. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, multiple air medals and an
Army Commendation Medal.
His Distinguished Flying Cross citation reads, " For extraordinary achievement while
participating in aerial flight over enemy held territory as leader of four F-84's on a close support
mission near Changjon Korea on June 24, 1951. While orbiting the assigned target of enemy bunkers
the enemy sent up a volley of flak and small arms fire which damaged Lieutenant Hutchison's
aircraft and also the controller aircraft. Lieutenant Hutchison assessed the damage to his aircraft and
chose to continue the strike. Flyng a damaged aircraft on repeated runs through intense enemy
automatic weapons fire, Lieutenant Hutchison led his flight toward the destruction of nine enemy
Hutchison's Air Medal Oak Leaf Cluster cites, "While engaged in aerial flight over enemy
territory, Hutchison pinpointed the flak positions of the enemy, scoring direct hits with bombs and
rockets destroying four of the enemy's automatic weapon positions.
Upon return to Wilmington, Hutchison was named aircraft maintenance supervisor of
the Air Guard and in 1961 selected as commander of the 142nd air transport squadron,
where he served until promotion to colonel and commander of the 166th airlift group in
During the Vietnam War, Hutchison flew missions into Da Nang and Tan Son Hut
airports, and while his Boeing C-97s were hit by enemy ground fire, the rugged aircraft
always brought their crews safely home to New Castle.
18,000 + Hours and Still Flying…
Hutchison retired from the Guard after 33 years, but he didn't retire his wings. He has
flown commercial jets for another 8,000 hours, stretching his total flight time to 18,000
hours in 14 different aircraft types. He has worked 22 years as an instructor and
examiner for FlightSafety International at New Castle Airport and still flies the
Westwind and Astra jet aircraft.
He and his wife Gerri now reside in Chadds Ford, Pa. They are the parents of two sons
and six daughters. They have 15 grandchildren.
Memories of an Air Commander:
The P-47 Thunderbolts, flown by Delaware pilots thundered through Delaware skies in 1947 and
excited the imagination of the populace, which included me as a student at the University of
Delaware. The following year, I began to learn the cost of readiness as I examined a gaping hole left
by an out of control fighter which took the life of the operations officer.
Like most Guardsmen, I was recruited by the enthusiasm of a friend already a member. This one
element has remained essentially unchanged over the years, members recruit their friends and thus
local communities become involved in the Guard through its citizens.
Delaware, in 1949 received its first jet fighters, the F-84. It was a spectacular event. In those days,
most pilots had only fantasized flying a jet. Civilians were only vaguely aware of what they were. At
an Open House a Mayor asked where the propeller was. Their performance was mind boggling if
not erratic. Engine overhauls now measured in 1000’s of hours were then measured in tens of hours.
The mysticism of the powerplant gave an aura of invincibility to the pilots.
William F. Hutchison Jr.
|Delaware Military History