Lieutenant General Richard E. Merkling is deputy chief of staff for logistics and engineering, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

General Merkling was born in 1925, in Kendallville, Ind., and graduated from Hamilton High School, Los Angeles. He has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California and a master of science degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1955 and Air War College in 1968. Both schools are located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

As a member of the Army Air Forces Reserve, he was called to active duty in January 1944 in an enlisted status. He later became an aviation cadet. At the end of World War II, his pilot training was terminated and he was discharged in November 1945. He then entered the University of California, graduating in June 1950. A month later he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force as a distinguished Air Force Reserve Officers, Training Corps graduate.

General Merkling immediately re-entered flying training. By December 1951 he had completed basic and advanced pilot training and fighter combat crew training. From January to December 1952, he served in South Korea, flying more than 100 combat missions in F-84s with the 49th Fighter-Bomber Group.

He returned to the United States and was assigned as a fighter-gunnery instructor and assistant group operations officer with the 3646th Fighter Training Squadron at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. He attended Squadron Officer School and in November 1955 was assigned as a flight test pilot at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where he flew F-86s, F-94s and F-100s. He was also project manager for development of the M-61 aerial cannon and the F-104, F-101 and F-105 armament systems. In April 1958 he entered the Aerospace Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and flew a wide variety of experimental aircraft.

From December 1958 to June 1962, General Merkling served in Japan as an RF-101 reconnaissance pilot at Misawa Air Base. He later joined the 5th Air Force Tactical Evaluation Team, flying F-100s and RF-101s. Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned as an operations officer and later as director of the Research and Development Division of the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

In November 1966 he returned to the Far East as operations officer for the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron (the famed "Triple Nickel") of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. He flew 100 combat missions over North Vietnam in F-4s. In July 1967 he entered the Air War College and was a distinguished graduate in July 1968. While there he earned his master's degree from The George Washington University. His next assignment was as chief of the Tactical Fighter Branch in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development at Air Force headquarters until November 1971.

He then returned to Thailand as commander of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base and logged an additional 135 combat missions in F-4s. The wing played a major role in stopping the North Vietnamese offensive in April 1972 and in counteroffensive operations which led to the signing of a cease-fire in early 1973.

From February to December 1973, General Merkling was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Belgium, where he was chief of the Air Section, Operations Division. He then served as deputy chief of staff for operations for the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization command located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. His assignment in this international headquarters included responsibility for staff supervision and direction of all operational matters pertaining to 4th Allied Tactical Air Force.

General Merkling became director of aerospace safety, U.S. Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, Calif., in March 1975, with worldwide supervisory responsibility for the development and implementation of policies, standards and procedures for Air Force flight, ground, missile, space, explosives and system safety engineering programs. He took command of the center in July 1977. He served in this capacity until June 1978 when he was assigned as commander of Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan Air Force Base, Calif.

In September 1979 he was named vice commander of Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He assumed his present duties in July 1982.

The general is a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.

He was promoted to lieutenant general Sept. 18, 1979, with same date of rank.

General Merkling's hometown is Los Angeles.

(Current as of October 1982)