Gordon H. Austin
AIR FORCE GENERAL
Gordon H. Austin, 97, a retired Air Force major general who, during a 30-year career, was responsible for the air defense of Alaska and the Eastern region of the United States, died Dec. 18 of congestive heart failure at his home in Alexandria.
Gen. Austin had been commander of the 11th Air Division with responsibility for Alaska’s air defense and later was commander of the Eastern region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
He retired from the Air Force in 1966 and settled in 1968 in Alexandria.
Gordon Harrison Austin was born in Davenport, Iowa. He graduated in 1936 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Later based in Hawaii, he became a squadron commander at Wheeler Army Airfield. He survived the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
As a fighter pilot during World War II, Gen. Austin flew 100 combat hours. He later commanded a B-26 bomber group.
He graduated from the National War College in Washington in 1953 and then was assigned to Alaska. He later became the senior Air Force representative to NATO until taking his command at NORAD.
Gen. Austin’s military decorations included the Silver Star, which he received for shooting down multiple enemy aircraft while escorting U.S. bombers during an air raid in North Africa. He also received the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Gen. Austin enjoyed the outdoors and taking trips to an island he owned on Lake Huron.
Joyce Tedman Austin, his wife of 44 years, died in 1994.
A son, Edmund Austin, died in 1973.
Survivors include his wife of 15 years, Billie Little Austin of Alexandria; two children from his first marriage, Betsy Austin of Waterbury Center, Vt., and Sally Bohlin of Waverly, Pa.; two stepchildren, Bill Tedards of Tucson and Ann Tedards of Eugene, Ore.; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.