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Craig Richard McKinley (born May 6, 1952) is a retired USAF General who served as the 26th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, serving from 2008 to 2012. He is the first officer from the National Guard to ever achieve the grade of a four-star general.[1] He is currently President of the Air Force Association.[2]


Craig Richard McKinley
General Craig R. McKinley
Born (1952-05-06) May 6, 1952 (age 67)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service1974–2012 (38 years)
RankUS-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held
AwardsSee below
Other workFormer President, Air Force Association

Prior to becoming chief, he served as the Director, Air National Guard from May 2006 to November 17, 2008. He retired after being succeeded by Frank J. Grass on September 7, 2012.[3] At the ceremony where he transferred authority to his successor, McKinley received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal.[4][5][6] McKinley's official retirement date was November 1, 2012.[7]


Military careerEdit

As the Chief, National Guard Bureau, General McKinley was the senior uniformed officer of the National Guard of the United States, and the state National Guard, responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, programs and plans affecting more than half a million federalized and nonfederalized Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel. Appointed by the President, he served as the principal adviser to the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He also served as the principal National Guard adviser to Secretary of Defense through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on all National Guard issues. As National Guard Bureau Chief, he served as the Army's and Air Force's official channel of communication with state governors and Adjutants General concerning state National Guards.

General McKinley received his commission in 1974 as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program at Southern Methodist University. He has served in numerous assignments in flying and operations, as well as command positions at group, wing, sector and field operating agency levels. He has also served as Commander, 1st Air Force (1 AF) and Commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Southeast Region, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. General McKinley is a command pilot with over 4,000 flight hours, primarily in the T-38 Talon, F-106 Delta Dart, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle. Additionally, General McKinley has been pilot in command in the C-131 Samaritan and C-130 Hercules Operational Support Airlift aircraft.



  1. December 1974 – November 1975, student, undergraduate pilot training, Moody AFB, Georgia
  2. November 1975 – March 1977, T-38 instructor pilot, Craig AFB, Alabama
  3. March 1977 – May 1979, equal opportunity and treatment officer, Air Force Military Training Center, Lackland AFB, Texas
  4. May 1979 – November 1980, T-38 instructor pilot, Laughlin AFB, Texas
  5. November 1980 – April 1986, F-106 alert pilot, 125th Fighter Interceptor Group, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida.
  6. April 1986 – June 1987, Chief of Safety, 125th Fighter Interceptor Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida
  7. June 1987 – April 1989, F-16 instructor pilot, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida.
  8. April 1989 – May 1990, Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida
  9. May 1990 – May 1991, Deputy Commander for Operations, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida
  10. May 1991 – May 1994, Commander, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida
  11. May 1994 – June 1995, student, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
  12. June 1995 – March 1996, Commander, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, Florida
  13. March 1996 – July 1996, Air National Guard Vice Commander, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Tyndall AFB, Florida
  14. July 1996 – January 1998, Commander, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Tyndall AFB, Florida
  15. January 1998 – February 2001, Deputy Director, Air National Guard, Arlington, Virginia, and Commander, Air National Guard Readiness Center, Andrews AFB, Maryland
  16. March 2001 – July 2002, Deputy Inspector General of the Air Force, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  17. August 2002 – October 2004, Commander, 1st Air Force (1 AF) of Air Combat Command, and Commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Tyndall AFB, Florida.
  18. November 2004 – November 2005, Director, Mobilization and Reserve Affairs Directorate, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany
  19. November 2005 – May 2006, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  20. May 2006 – November 2008, Director, Air National Guard, Arlington, Virginia
  21. November 2008 – September 2012, Chief, National Guard Bureau, Arlington, Virginia

Flight informationEdit

  • Rating: Command Pilot
  • Flight hours: More than 4,000
  • Aircraft flown: C-130, C-131, F-15, F-16, F-106, T-33, T-37 and T-38
  • Pilot wings from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia

Awards and decorationsEdit

  US Air Force Command Pilot Badge
  Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge
  Headquarters Air Force Badge
Personal decorations
  Defense Distinguished Service Medal
  Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster
  Defense Superior Service Medal
  Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Unit awards
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Service awards
Combat Readiness Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters
Campaign and service medals
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
  Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  Humanitarian Service Medal
Service, training, and marksmanship awards
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters
  Armed Forces Reserve Medal with silver Hourglass device
  Air Force Training Ribbon

Other achievementsEdit

  • 1974 Distinguished graduate, Air Force ROTC, Southern Methodist University
  • 1993 I.G. Brown Trophy
  • 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award, Southern Methodist University
  • 2004 Combined Forces Commander, Unified Engagement 04, U.S. Joint Forces Command

Effective dates of promotionEdit

Insignia Rank Date
  General (USAF) November 17, 2008
  Lieutenant General (USAF)  May 20, 2006
  Major General (USAF) May 24, 2001
  Brigadier General (USAF) January 28, 1998
  Colonel (ANG) January 28, 1994
  Lieutenant Colonel (ANG) May 16, 1990
  Major (ANG) May 16, 1986
  Captain (ANG) November 21, 1980
  First Lieutenant (USAF) December 8, 1976
  Second Lieutenant (USAF) May 18, 1974

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guard's First 4-star General Ready to Take Minutemen Forward
  2. ^ "Air Force Association — AFA Leadership — President". Archived from the original on March 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Army Times, General to Take Top Guard Job, Get 4th Star, September 5, 2012
  4. ^ U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, Panetta Hosts Chief Change For National Guard Bureau, Department of Defense Photo Essay, September 7, 2012 Archived April 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Karen Parrish, Pentagon Welcomes New Chief of National Guard Bureau, American Forces Press Service, September 7, 2012 Archived April 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Cheryl Pellerin, Napolitano Honors Outgoing National Guard Bureau Chief, American Forces Press Service, September 7, 2012 Archived April 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Jeff Schogol, Retiring McKinley Finishes Term as Guard Chief, Army Times, September 7, 2012


External linksEdit

  Media related to Craig R. McKinley at Wikimedia Commons

Military offices
Preceded by
Daniel James
Director of the Air National Guard
Succeeded by
Emmett R. Titshaw Jr.
Preceded by
H Steven Blum
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Succeeded by
Frank J. Grass