Brigadier General Antonio Maldonado
Youngest pilot and Aircraft Commander of a B-52 Stratofortress nuclear bomber
|Born||1941 (age 73–74)
Comerio, Puerto Rico
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||Puerto Rico Air National Guard (PRANG) 1960-1964
United States Air Force (USAF) 1964-1991
|Unit||34th Bomb Squadron, 60th Bombardment Squadron, 67th Tactical Fighter Wing, 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing|
|Awards||Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Brigadier General Antonio Maldonado (born 1941), was an officer of the United States Air Force, who in 1967 became the youngest pilot and Aircraft Commander of a B-52 Stratofortress nuclear bomber. He served as Chief, U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, Madrid, Spain. He was the senior Department of Defense representative to Spain and senior advisor to the US Ambassador to Spain. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991 he coordinated the overall US offensive operations from Spain.
Maldonado was born in Comerio, a town located in the center-eastern region of Puerto Rico. He is the youngest of twelve brothers and sisters born to Flor Maldonado Colón from Barranquitas and Carmen López Rodriguez from Naranjito. His family moved to the capital of the island, San Juan and there he attended Central High School. Maldonado graduated from high school in May 1959 and continued his academic education in the University of Puerto Rico where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in May 1964. Started his military career as an enlisted Operation Specialist with the 198th TFS in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard while he was still a student at the University of Puerto Rico during the early 60's. Upon his graduation, Maldonado received the commission of second lieutenant in the United States Air Force as a Distinguished Graduate from the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He married Carmen Gonzalez from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Maldonado was sent to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia where he completed his Air Force pilot training in August 1965. He was then assigned as a B-52 pilot with the 34th Bomb Squadron at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and in January 1969 became the youngest person to become an Aircraft Commander in said aircraft with the 60th Bombardment Squadron at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. During his tour at Ramey he earned his Master of Business Administration degree at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico in May 1969. In 1970,he was assigned to the 67th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, where he trained as an F-4C Phantom pilot.
In January 1971, Maldonado was transferred to the 432nd Tactical Fighter Reconnaissance Wing, Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. His active participation in the Vietnam War included 183 air combat missions over North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia logging more than 400 combat flying hours in the F-4C Phantom.
Return to the United States
In December 1971, Maldonado returned to the United States upon completing his tour of duty in Vietnam. He was assigned to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas, as an RF-4C Instructor Pilot. In December 1972 he was selected for a special assignment as an International Politico-military Affairs Officer to the U.S. Southern Command, Albrook Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone. Maldonado left Panama to attend the Army Command and General Staff College from July 1976 to July 1977.
Among the assignments which he held from 1977 to 1982 were the following: B-52 Instructor Pilot and Chief of the Command Control Division (1977–1979) for the 42nd Bombardment Wing at Loring Air Force Base, Maine; Commander of the 28th Bombardment Squadron and later Assistant Deputy Commander for Operations, 19th Bombardment Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia (1979–1981). He continued his military academic education by attending the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama graduating in May 1982 as a Distinguished Graduate.
Upon his graduation from the Air War College, Maldonado was assigned to Headquarters, United States Air Force at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., as Chief, Western Hemisphere Division, Office of the Deputy Director for Plans and Policy. In June 1983 he was named Chief, Strategic Offensive Forces Division, Directorate of Plans.
In April 1984, Maldonado was transferred to K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan. During the years which he spent there (1984–1987) he assumed various leadership positions: Deputy Commander for Operations (1984), 410th Bombardment Wing; Vice Commander (September 1984)and Commander(July 1985). While commanding the 410th, General Maldonado won numerous top Air Force awards including the coveted Omaha Trophy (best combat Wing) and the 390th Bombardment Group Memorial Trophy (best Wing Commander).
On May 1987, Maldonado was reassigned once more to the Pentagon where he served as Chief, Strategic Operations Division, Operations Directorate, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In June 1988 he became Deputy Director for Operations, National Military Command Center, the Pentagon. On September 1 of that same year, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General becoming the second Air Force Officer from Puerto Rico and the first from a Puerto Rico University to reach the general officer ranks.
On July 1989, Maldonado was named Chief, U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, Madrid, Spain, becoming the senior Department of Defense representative to that country. His responsibilities included providing overall direction to U.S. elements in Spain on status of forces, security assistance programs and other defense and base agreement matters. He also provided overall coordination for US offensive operations out of Spain during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Brigadier General Maldonado retired from the United States Air Force on September 1, 1991 with more than 4,000 hours of flight, after 27 years of service of active duty service.
After Maldonado retired from the Air Force in 1991, he was named President of "Fomento Industrial de Puerto Rico" (Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company) by the Government of Puerto Rico, a position which he held until January 1993. In 1993 he became the CEO of the American Red Cross, Puerto Rico Region. In 1999 he became Executive Director of Palmas Del Mar Homeowners Association, Humacao, PR. Maldonado is a board member of the US National Marrow Donor Program and a member of the Board of Governors PR Aqueducts Authority. Maldonado is currently married to Ilia Lopez from Humacao, Puerto Rico and has four daughters Carmen Zaydee, Joyce, Suzy and Elsie Oshiry and grandchildren Calvin, Isabella, Gabriella, Allegra and Spencer.
Awards and recognitions
Among Brigadier General Antonio Maldonado's decorations and medals were the following:
- Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
- Legion of Merit
- Distinguished Flying Cross,
- Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters,
- Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters,
- Air Force Commendation Medal
- National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star,
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with bronze service star,
- Vietnam Service Medal with bronze service star
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
- Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Streamer
- Inter-American Defense Board Medal
- List of famous Puerto Ricans
- List of Puerto Rican military personnel
- Hispanics in the United States Air Force
- "USAF BIO"., Retrieved June 7, 2007.
- Ildelfonso Lopez, Tras las Huellas de Nuestro Paso, Pg. 34, Publisher: AEELA, 1998, Retrieved June 6, 2007; Publisher: El Mundo, February 28, 1968, retrieved April 25, 2013.
- , John T. Kelly, Publisher El Nuevo Dia, April 10, 1988; El Mundo, February 8, 1988, retrieved April 24, 2013.
- National Marrow Donor Program, Retrieved March 4, 2007
- Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own; by : Greg Boudonck; ISBN 978-1497421837