Retired Maj. Gen. William J. Breckner Jr., 74, was killed Feb. 16 in a single-vehicle car crash on Colorado Highway 105, according to various news reports. He was on his way to his home in Monument, Colo. Breckner retired from the Air Force in 1986, last serving as commander of 17th Air Force. He received his commission and wings in the Aviation Cadet program in 1955, initially flying F-86, F-100, and F-101 aircraft. In an exchange program with the Navy, he flew A-4s off the USS Intrepid during the Vietnam War. While flying an F-4 on a return tour in Southeast Asia, Breckner’s aircraft took a surface-to-air missile hit, leaving him a prisoner of war from 1972 to March 1973. After the war, he served in a variety of command and staff positions, taking charge of 17th Air Force at Sembach AB, Germany in August 1984.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.