Devol “Rock” Brett pioneered deploying fighters across the ocean as he led his squadron in the operational debut of the Composite Air Strike Force (CASF), a new US Air Force concept for getting airpower to trouble spots anywhere on the globe. Born in 1923 at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, Brett is the son of Lieutenant General George H. Brett, the first Chief of the Air Corps under General Arnold in the US Army Air Forces. In 1945 he graduated from the US Military Academy with pilot wings. He was assigned to the 86th Fighter Wing in Germany where he flew North American P-51 Mustangs and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. Brett also flew the Douglas C-47 Skytrain in the first days of the Berlin Airlift in 1948. He was next assigned to the Air Tactical School as a student and then an instructor. This was followed by a tour in Korea where he logged over 100 combat missions in the P-51. Subsequently, Brett commanded Republic F-84 Thunderjet and North American F-100D/F Super Sabre squadrons. As commander, he led the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, in four major F-100 deployments including the first CASF mission during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis and a second CASF during the 1961 Berlin Crisis. Following two more commands, National War College, and a tour on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Brett became the vice commander of the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing in the Republic of Vietnam.
He flew over 100 combat missions in the McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II. In December 1967 he was shot down over North Vietnam and was rescued. He was assigned as a fighter wing commander in England, then the inspector general for US Air Forces in Europe. Following an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) tour, he became the first Air Force US Military Assistance Advisory Group Chief in Iran. He was appointed the US Representative to the Permanent Military Deputies Group and Chief, US Element, Central Treaty Organization. In 1977, he was named Commander, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, and Commander, 16th Air Force. Brett retired as a lieutenant general in 1980 and joined the Institute for Defense Analyses. He primarily supports OSD in the field of combat search and rescue. His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star, Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with gold star, and the Republic of Italy-Presidential Grand Order of Merit. He has also been awarded Vietnamese and Turkish Air Force Pilot Wings.