John L. Borling

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John Borling
John Borling and his wife Myrna
Medals Awarded
John Borling after return to the US

John Lorin Borling (born 1940 in Chicago) is a retired Major General of the United States Air Force whose military career spanned 37 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 the next 6½ years as a POW in Hanoi.[2]


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 career[edit]

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] Captain 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, he 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 activities[edit]

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]


A highly decorated officer, his awards include:[2][5] The Silver Star, two Bronze Stars with V for Valor and two Purple Hearts. Other medals include:Prisoner of War Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Defense, Superior Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.[6]

His publications[edit]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Myrna, also from Illinois. They have two daughters.[7]


  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 Class Histories". USAFA Class Archives. United States Air Force Academy. Retrieved 31 October 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  5. ^ "Military Award Recipients". Military Times Hall of Valor. Gannett. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  6. ^ "Hall of Valor". Military Times Hall of Valor. Hall of Valor. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Veteran Tributes". Veteran Tribute Organization. Veteran Tributes. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 

External links[edit]