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John Lorin Borling (born March 24, 1940) is a retired major general of the United States Air Force whose military career spanned 33 years. He has piloted many aircraft including the F-15, F16, F-4, the SR-71 Blackbird, the U-2, and B-52 and B-1 bombers.[1] During the Vietnam War, his aircraft was shot down and he spent 6½ years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.[2]

John Borling
John Borling Flight Suit.JPG
John Borling in a flight suit, July 2012
Born (1940-03-24) March 24, 1940 (age 79)
Chicago, Illinois
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1963–1996
RankMajor General
Commands held57th Air Division (1987–88)
86th Fighter Group (1982–84)
94th Fighter Squadron (1976–79)
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Bronze Star Medal (3)
Purple Heart (2)
John Borling after return to the US
Medals Awarded
John Borling and his wife Myrna



Borling attended the United States Air Force Academy, and was subsequently a graduate of the National War College and executive programs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Business School. He was a White House Fellow and, later, treasurer and director of the White House Fellows governing foundation and for many years a regional selection panel member.

Military careerEdit

Borling was a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, where he was shot down by ground fire. Seriously injured in his crash, Captain Borling still attempted to commandeer a Vietnamese supply truck for his escape. He was able to gain control of a supply truck, but the truck was carrying Vietnamese regulars.[3] Borling was soon overpowered by the soldiers and would spend the next 6½ years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.[2] John Borling was released on February 12, 1973.

Subsequent to his return, Borling was an F-15 Eagle fighter pilot and commander of the "Hat in the Ring" squadron. He was an Air Division commander at Minot AFB, and Head of Operations for Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha. In that position, he directed SAC's support of hostilities in the first Gulf War and Panama and was charged with execution responsibilities for the nation's nuclear war plan. At the Pentagon, he led CHECKMATE, a highly classified war fighting think tank and was Director of Air Force Operational Requirements helping initiate a new family of guided weapons. In Germany, he commanded the largest fighter and support base outside the United States and later served at NATO's Supreme Headquarters in Belgium working directly for the Supreme Commander and Chief of Staff. He was central to the creation of HQ North in Norway and served as Chief of Staff of that integrated NATO/National command.


Borling created Taps on the Walls: Poems from the Hanoi Hilton: a collection of poems he wrote during his time in captivity.

Civic activitiesEdit

Civic activities include: The Commercial Club of Chicago, Trustee, The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, Chicago Host Committee, The Medal of Honor Society Convention, President, Sister Lakes Michigan Land Conservancy, Inductee, Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame, Who's Who in America, and numerous other local and national organizations. The Chicago Crime Commission, Member.[4]

Awards and decorationsEdit

A highly decorated officer, Borling's awards include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal with "V" device and two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Prisoner of War Medal.[2][5]

His publicationsEdit

  • Borling, John (2013). Taps on the Walls. Chicago: Master Wings Publishing LLC. ISBN 0615659055. OCLC 818738145.

Personal lifeEdit

Borling is married to his high school sweetheart, Myrna, also from Illinois. They have two daughters.[6]


  2. ^ a b c "Major General John L. Borling Biography". Airforce History and Biography of Notable Officers. United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  3. ^ Krol, Eric. "'I was able to compete'". Illinois Senate Race Archives. Daily Herald. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  4. ^ USAFA. "USAFA Class Histories". USAFA Class Archives. United States Air Force Academy. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Military Award Recipients". Military Times Hall of Valor. Gannett. Archived from the original on 2012-06-09. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  6. ^ "Veteran Tributes". Veteran Tribute Organization. Veteran Tributes. Retrieved 14 November 2012.

External linksEdit