Major General John Borling (USAF-ret) is a published author, poet, weekly Sunday columnist (The Third Degree), and speaker. Business board chairman of Symphonics, a drug development company, he is also chairman of a nascent, affordable, private-air and very high-speed transport travel company. He founded SOS America (Service over Self), which advocates a year of volunteer military service for America’s youth.
General Borling served 33 years in high-level command and staff positions. A highly decorated fighter pilot, his many awards include The Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars with V for Valor, two Purple Hearts, six Air Medals, and the Prisoner of War (POW) Medal. He has piloted many aircraft, including the F-15, Eagle, F-16, Viper, F-4, Phantom, the SR-71, Blackbird, the TR1(U-2), the B-52, and B-1 bombers plus tankers and command and control aircraft.
Chicago-born, the 1963 Air Force Academy graduate was shot down by ground fire deep in North Vietnam on his 97th combat mission in June 1966. Seriously injured and captured while trying to evade, he spent over six and a half years as a POW. Released in 1973, Borling reunited with his wife Myrna and daughter Lauren and soon re-qualified in fighter aircraft. A year later, daughter Megan was born. After a national competition, he was selected as a White House Fellow serving in the Ford White House.
In 1976, he joined the historic First Fighter Wing, outfitting with the new F15 “Eagle”. As an instructor pilot, operations, and maintenance officer, he would command the famed “Hat-in-the-Ring” Squadron. Selected for National War College, and, later, executive education at Harvard’s JFK and Business Schools, his Pentagon assignments included: Chief of CHECKMATE, classified warfighting, analysis group; and Director of Air Force Operational Requirements, championing a new family of guided weapons.
He commanded at base and fighter group level in Germany along with key duty at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters in Belgium. Posted to Strategic Air Command (SAC) Headquarters in Omaha, NE, he was an Air Division Commander (Bomber, Missile and Tanker Bases in Minot and Grand Forks, ND and Spokane, WA). Promoted to lead all SAC operations, he had responsibilities, inter alia, for training, readiness, force projection, nuclear and conventional warfare, including the nation’s nuclear war plan.
As an architect and Chief of Staff for Headquarters North, an integrated NATO, National, and Norwegian Command, he was the senior American military officer in Scandinavia. Personally honored by King Harald V, General Borling is the only American officer to be inducted as a Commander in the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.
After military retirement, he returned to Chicago as CEO of United Way, raising record revenue. He re-established Chicago’s Memorial Day ceremonies and helped create the first Chicago Military Academy. Life member of The Commercial Club of Chicago, he is also a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and recipient of The Order of Lincoln, the highest honor tendered by the State. He remains involved with numerous civic and military organizations. He and Myrna live in Rockford.