Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

This site's the panther's roar! Photo of 549 courtesy of Mr. Akira Watanabe of

“Big Ed” Tixier Visits the Samurai

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Being at the “Tip of the Spear” at Misawa during the Cold War (also known by some as the “end of the shaft”), a numbered air force that has never been in the States, HQ Fifth Air Force at Yokota AB, was our higher headquarters that directed that Speartip.  During the early period of the F-16’s basing at Misawa, the Commander of Fifth Air Force was Lieutenant General Edward L. Tixier, USAF, a tall, silver haired officer with some 9,000 flight hours and combat experience from the Vietnam War, flying F-4’s in the 557TFS of the 12TFW at Cam Ranh Bay in 1968.  He became the Commander, Fifth Air Force and Commander, US Forces Japan in 1984, and was the senior American military representative in Japan.

Lt Gen Edward L. Tixier commanded Fifth Air Force and US Forces Japan from July 1984 to 1 Feb 1988.  (Courtesy USAF)

Lt Gen Edward L. Tixier commanded Fifth Air Force and US Forces Japan from July 1984 to 1 Feb 1988. (Courtesy USAF)

A personal recollection of General Tixier was formed at a conference held at Yokota in late 1987, a Fifth Air Force Warrior’s Symposium, and a grand barbecue held at the general’s home afterward.  He encouraged attendees to share ideas and perspectives on airpower employment in Japan, and from one man’s perspective inspired folks to think creatively about it.

On the other hand, there were some folks who thought creatively of the general, with all due respect.  In the 14TFS in 1987, there was a little informal newsletter called “The A Flight Chronicle and Samurai-Sun Times,” which featured some of the squadron news with a good dose of humor.  The writer of this web log doesn’t recall the editor or writers of this “Published Periodically” newsletter, but Lt Gen Tixier was feted in the 27 October 1987 Midnight Edition, which is quoted herein:


Lt Gen “Big Ed” Tixier, 5AF Commander visited with members of the 14 th Tactical Fighter Squadron this week.  Tixier flew with several members of the famed aeerial squadron and had a meeting with available supervisors on Wednesday.  The 6′ 3″ silver-haired general is scheduled to fly with the unit again on Thursday.  Tixier, whos motto is “Peace through Superior Firepower”, has been the 5AF Commander for several years.  “The F-16 is a joy to fly”‘ he said in a personal interview with reporters at the Club Mutsu. “I love it…I just can’t understand why they put so damn many knobs and buttons in it”.

General Tixier retired from the Air Force on 1 February 1988, not too long after his October visit to Misawa.  According to his official USAF biography, he flew west on 3 June 1999. On behalf of the Samurai, a hand salute to this memorable Air Warrior!




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