Ardmore Army Air Field-Lt. Col. John C. Simmons Lt. Colonel John C. Simmons
United States Air Force (Retired)
This is the story of Lt. Colonel John C. Simmons' 26-year military career. He began his military service, February 21, 1939, as a member of Company G, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Oklahoma National Guard at Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Pursuant to the Presidential Order, August 14, 1940, the Oklahoma National Guard was mobilized into active service, September 16, 1940. The unit reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, September 26, 1940, and moved to Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas, February 23, 1941.
He was inducted as Corporal; became Sergeant, October 1, 1940, and was promoted to Staff Sergeant, April 14, 1942, serving as Platoon Sergeant and Squad Leader Rifleman. He qualified as Expert for the .03 Springfield, Browning Automatic Rifle and 30 Caliber Machine Gun. He was proficient with the 60mm Mortar. He qualified as Marksman with the 45 Caliber Pistol and Sharp Shooter with the 30 Caliber Carbine.
He was accepted for Infantry Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, May 16, 1942, attaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, August 27, 1942. He reported to Camp Wheeler, Macon, Georgia as an Instructor, Basic Infantry. Assigned to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, December 1, 1942, he served as Weapons Platoon leader. Transferred to Alliance, Nebraska, February 28, 1943, he held a similar responsibility with the 82nd Airborne Glider Infantry through, October 15, 1943. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, September 25, 1943.
Lieutenant Simmons applied and was accepted, October 16, 1943, for pilot flight training in the Army Air Forces. He completed preflight school at San Antonio, Texas, primary at Brayton Air Field, Cuero, Texas, basic at Curtis Field, Brady, Texas and advanced instruction at Blackland Army Air Field, Waco, Texas, where he received his wings, June 27, 1944.
He participated in the Student Rated Officer Command Course at San Antonio, Texas from June 28, 1944 to August 16, 1944. Reporting to Childress Army Air Field, Texas, he completed requirements for a twin-engine pilot rating, November 24, 1944.
He reported to Buckley Field, Colorado, November 26, 1944, completing the Armament and Chemical course, March 25, 1945. Returning to Childress Army Air Field, March 26, 1945, he served as Base Armament Officer, Bombsight Maintenance Officer and Commanding Officer. He was promoted to Captain, October 24, 1945.
Transferred to Rhein-Main AFB, Frankfurt, Germany, February 12, 1946, he served as Assistant Executive Officer for Operations, then Operations and Training Officer for Headquarters, 51st Troop Carrier Wing. He became Provost Marshall, January 1, 1947, and Commanding Officer, 1058th Military Police Company, at Rhein-Main, ETO, September 8, 1947 through October 14, 1947. Assuming Provost Marshall again, October 15, 1947, until March 8, 1948, when he returned to the United States. He participated in the Berlin Airlift.
Reporting to Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas, July 16, 1948, he served as Provost Marshall of the 47th Troop Carrier Squadron until, August 20, 1948.
He was a student at the Air Tactical School, 4414th Air Base Squadron, Panama City, Florida, from August 21,1948 until December 17, 1948.
He flew as twin engine pilot, (C-82) accompanying the 334th Troop Carrier Group to Smyrna AFB, Tennessee, January 25, 1949, serving there as Assistant Group Operations and Training Officer of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing, through February 4, 1950, becoming Wing Provost Marshall, February 5, 1950 until August 6, 1950.
Simmons was assigned to Erding Air Base, Munich, Germany, August 29, 1950, (USAFE) where he served until, May 16, 1953. He attained the rank of Major, September 1, 1951. He received Top Secret clearance in 1952. He was Squadron Commander of the 85th Air Police Squadron of the 85th Air Base Group.
Returning to the US, he became a student, June 10, 1953 to December 11, 1953, at the Field Officer's Course, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama. He was plans officer at the Squadron Officer's School, Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell, from December 12, 1953 to August 31, 1955, when he became an instructor in the Curriculum Plans Branch, Curriculum and Instructional Division, Staff Officers School, ACSC, through June 15, 1956. He attained Senior Pilot status, July 11, 1956.
Simmons enrolled in the Air Force Institute of Technology program, August 27, 1957, at Wright-Patterson AFB and completed an Advanced Management Degree from Ohio State University in 1958.
His next assignment was to Dyess AFB, Abilene, Texas where he became Aircraft Commander of a Boeing KC-97 tanker, 11th Air Refueling Squadron, Strategic Air Command. He was Commander of the Headquarters Squadron.
The 11th Air Refueling Squadron was transferred to Dover AFB, Delaware, June 10, 1960, where Simmons continued as Aircraft Commander on the KC-97. On August 16, 1960, he became Controller of the 11th Refueling Squadron until, March 26, 1962, when he assumed Chief of the Control Division. He received his Command Pilot wings, December 29, 1960. While at Dover, Simmons participated in a two-year Military Science curriculum at the University of Delaware.
Another SAC assignment to Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda, came, May 27, 1962, where he served as Special Assistant to the Commander of the 303rd Air Refueling Squadron, becoming Deputy Commander, June 8, 1962, and Chief of Operations, October 20, 1962. He was appointed Lt. Colonel, February 24, 1962.
On July 1, 1963, he became Operation's Officer for the 55th Air Refueling Squadron (MATS) where he served until, July 16, 1964, when he was transferred to Dyess AFB, Abilene, Texas as a pilot with the 347th and 345th Troop Carrier Squadrons. He flew the Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" with these squadrons. On March 1, 1965, he became Operation's Officer for the 345th.
Lt. Colonel Simmons developed heart problems in 1965, was taken off flight status and granted medical retirement, August 23, 1965. He had logged 3,668:45 hours flight time. At age 42-years, he was not ready to leave the profession he had given his life to for 26 years. He saw many changes take place in the military as well as a perceived change of attitudes and perhaps a decline in devotion to duty of officers and men in the late 50s and 60s. As a lifelong professional, this troubled him a great deal.
Simmons finished his career, oddly enough, 23 years later at the military installation where he spent his last days in the US Army (1942) before becoming an officer and pilot in the Army Air Forces. Camp Barkeley and Tye Army Air Field were closed in 1945. Abilene Air Force Base (Dyess) was activated in 1950.
He received the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Longevity Ribbon with Oak Leaf Clusters (4-bronze and 1-silver), Good Conduct Medal (Army), World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany) and American Defense Service Medal. He served outside the US seven years and two months, 27.5 percent of his enlistment.
He married Genevieve Eaton of Rotan, Texas, December 17, 1941. She was a dedicated military wife and devoted mother to their three children, Ginna Diane, Stephen, and Kathy.
Lt. Colonel John Calloway Simmons (Retired) died in the Dyess Air Force Base Hospital from a fatal heart attack, July 4, 1967, and is buried at Elmwood Memorial Cemetery, Abilene. If you served with Lt. Col. Simmons, e-mail to gsimmons
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