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Honoring Our Heroes

Col Douglas B. Cairns: Age 84

Col Douglas B. Cairns served for 30 years in the United States Air Force. His primary Air Force specialty was pilot and Director of Air Operations. He began his career with pilot training and then as a Flight Training Instructor. His variety of assignments included: F-4C/D/E fighter pilot and test pilot, Logistics Staff Officer, Air Operations Staff Officer, Planning and Programming Officer and Director of Operations. His final assignment was as Academic Program Director and instructor.

Col Cairns was highly decorated, receiving the following medals: Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished-Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal with two Service Stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Device and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Col Cairns was born on June 4, 1938 into a military family to his parents, Bogardus and Doris Cairns. His father was a career officer in the U.S. Army. Col Cairns received most of his high school education in DoD schools in Germany and then graduated from North Fulton High School at Atlanta, GA, in June 1956. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, CO, entered active duty and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on June 7, 1961. He completed pilot training and served as a flight instructor at Craig Air Force Base, AL, for five years. Next, he went to George Air Force Base, CA, where he trained to fly the F-4C Phantom. His Vietnam tour followed which included 100 missions over North Vietnam. Next, he served at Kelly Air Force Base as a general’s aide and logistics staff officer for two years. Then he completed the Aerospace Research Pilot’s School at Edwards AFB, CA, followed by service at Wright Patterson AFB, OH, as a test pilot. Following attending the USAF Air Command and Staff College, AL, his next assignment was as lead pilot for operational test and evaluation at Clark AFB, Philippine Islands, for three years. He then attended the Naval War College, R.I., followed by three years of on the Air Staff in the Pentagon. Col Cairns then served as the Deputy Commander for Operations in the 347th Tactical Fighter Wing at Moody A.F.B, GA. Next, he served at Kirtland A.F.B., NM, overseeing operational test and evaluation of tactical aircraft and munitions. His last overseas assignment was directing the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, India. His final assignment was as instructor and academic course director at the USAF Air War College, AL, He retired from the Air Force in Montgomery, AL, on 6 June 1991.

Cairns and his wife, Diane, have been a married team for 61 years. They have two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Their son is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served in the US Army Special Forces with a tour in Afghanistan. When his son retired from the Army his service was the fourth generation to serve in the US military. Their daughter is a nurse in Montgomery. Col Cairns and his wife were very involved as a team supporting chapel and church activities throughout their journey. After retirement, they were members of Christ the Redeemer Episcopal Church, Legacy Anglican Church and now Christchurch Anglican in Montgomery, AL. He was active with Officers Christian Fellowship throughout his military Career. He and Diane have enjoyed playing golf and tennis and skiing.

Col Cairns observed that “I had a variety of assignments. Most of them were exciting and interesting. Because my father was a career officer, I was nurtured in an atmosphere of a military society where service to country was normal, expected and rewarding. It has been an honor for me to serve.”

 

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