04/29/09 — Alumnus to speak at ECU graduation

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Alumnus to speak at ECU graduation

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 29, 2009 1:46 PM

A seasoned F-15 pilot who toured Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as a young ROTC cadet will return to eastern North Carolina May 8 to give the spring commencement address at his alma mater.

Lt. Gen. Gary North, commander of the 9th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central, is set to speak before the more than 3,000 East Carolina University students slated for graduation.

The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. at the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Air Forces Command is comprised of five wings in the eastern United States and three direct reporting units, including more than 350 aircraft and 24,000 active-duty and civilian personnel.

As the air component commander for U.S. Central Command, North is responsible for developing contingency plans and conducting air operations in a 27-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa.

North was commissioned in 1976 after completing ECU's ROTC program as a distinguished graduate. He has held numerous operational, command and staff positions, and has completed seven overseas tours.

He has commanded the 33rd Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., the 5th Operations Group at Misawa Air Base, Japan, the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

North is a command pilot with more than 4,100 flying hours in the F-4, F-15 and F-16 and flew 54 combat missions during operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch.