General Walter Kross is a United States Air Force combat veteran whose military experience, from 1964 to 1998 was quite extensive, culminating as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Transportation Command and commander, Air Mobility Command (AMC), Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. As a unified Commander-in-Chief, he was responsible to the Secretary of Defense for the nation’s defense transportation requirements. He exercised command over service transportation components from the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. As the TRANSCOM Commander, he oversaw a 168,000-person organization with more than 1,500 aircraft, 120 ships, 1,400 specialized railcars, 12,000 containers, a worldwide network of aerial ports and seaports, and the corresponding physical and information technology infrastructure to operate daily across the entire world
General Kross is best known for his vision, guidance, and contributions as Director of Operations and Logistics for all defense transportation requirements in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. As the director, he orchestrated the largest transportation operation since World War II shipping 3.5 million short tons of cargo along with 6.1 million tons of Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants and over 503,000 personnel.
General Kross was the first in his family to attend college, and he was commissioned through USAF Officer Training School in December 1964. His early career combined both fighter and airlift experience as he flew 157 F-4 combat missions, 100 over North Vietnam. He later transitioned to strategic airlift, followed by a tour in the 89th Wing at Andrews. He was assigned to the Air Staff for six years, including two and a half years in the Chief’s Staff Group as the theater war subject matter expert. General Kross served as Wing Commander of Dover’s C-5 wing, USAF’s Director of Operations, Provisional Commander standing up AMC, then served as AMC’s first Vice Commander. He was Commander of 15th Air Force and Director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. He was an instructor and evaluator pilot with almost 6,000 flying hours in 12 different aircraft ranging from the F-4 to C-141 to the KC-10 and the VC-137. In Vietnam, he earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses and 13 Air Medals. He founded USAF’s Project Warrior Program and produced USAF’s Trainer Aircraft Master Plan. He conceived and championed DOD’s important Global Air Traffic Management program, teaming with the FAA to establish and fund what has become a multi-decade program of continuous aircraft avionics enhancements enabling safe and efficient air operations worldwide.
Winston Churchill stated, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” General Kross sacrificed for our country for 34 years. His leadership, life and legacy will continue to serve as an inspiration and a tool that shapes tomorrow’s Air Force.