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Rann, commander in 1970s, dies

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
A former commander of the 127th Tactical Fighter Wing has died. Brig. Gen. Richard A. Rann, who led the wing in the middle 1970s and then served as assistant adjutant general for air, died Oct. 9, in Charlotte, Mich.

Rann, 90, led the 127th TFW for about 18 months in 1974 and 1975 before becoming assistant adjutant general for air. Rann served as wing commander just after the wing transferred from Detroit Metro Airport to Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Prior to commanding the 127th, Rann served as the commander of the 110th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard in Battle Creek. In 2002, he was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Rann initially began his service in the Canadian Air Force in 1941. At the time, he did not possess the educational credentials to serve as a pilot and officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces. After flying Hurricane fighters in England with the Canadians, Rann transferred to the USAAF in 1943. He continued to serve in England and Europe, flying P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs with the 356th Fighter Group. The future general survived three crash landings due to mechanical failures, one mid-air collision and being shot down once by enemy fire. After being shot down, Rann was held as a prisoner of war. In all, he completed 120 combat missions during the war, earning the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 10 Air medals and the Purple Heart. He accumulated more than 6,500 total flying hours as a civilian and military pilot.

The citation on Rann's Silver Star reads in part: "Leading his Squadron on a "flak busting" mission in support of the Arnheim airborne invasion, Major Rann neutralized six gun emplacements while his Squadron destroyed forty-two installations. On 26 November 1944, he again demonstrated gallantry of the highest order by frustrating an interception attack of a vastly superior force of enemy fighters."

After the war, Rann served for more than 30 years as a traditional member of the Michigan Air National Guard, generally serving one weekend per month and two weeks of active duty per year. In his civilian life, Rann was a veterinarian.

During Rann's tenure in command of the 127th, the 127th and the 191st Group were separate entities; they combined in 1996. While he was serving as commander, the 127th was flying the F-100 Super Sabre, a supersonic fighter-interceptor.

About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.