Ken North was born on May 29, 1930, in Rockville, Connecticut. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 17, 1947, was honorably discharged on September 18, 1951, and then was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Connecticut on July 18, 1953. Lt North went on active duty beginning August 26, 1953, and then completed pilot training, earning his pilot wings at Williams AFB, Arizona, in August 1954. He then served as an Air Defense Command pilot at Truax Field, Wisconsin, from August 1954 to August 1956, followed by service in the Air Force Reserve from August 26, 1956, until he returned to active duty on September 12, 1957. His next assignment was with the 6308th Armament and Electronics Maintenance Squadron at Itazuke AB, Japan, from October 1957 to April 1959, and then as an F-100 Super Sabre pilot with the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Itazuke from April 1959 to December 1960. Capt North served as an F-100 pilot with the 523rd and then 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, from January 1961 to June 1963, and during this time deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey, in support of the Berlin Crisis from June to October 1961. His next assignment was on the staff of Headquarters Pacific Air Forces at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from June 1963 to June 1965, followed by F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from June to September 1965. Capt North served as an F-105 pilot with the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, from October 1965 to June 1966, and then with the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 1, 1966. After spending 2,408 days in captivity, Col North was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, and then attended Naval War College from August 1973 to May 1974. His next assignment was as assistant director of operations for the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida, from May 1974 to February 1976, and then as deputy commander for operations and Vice Commander of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, from February 1976 to May 1978. Col North next served as Vice Commander and then Commander of the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon AB, Spain, from August 1978 to June 1981, followed by service as executive officer to the Deputy Commander in Chief of U.S. European Command at Vaihingen, West Germany, from June 1981 to August 1982. Gen North served as Commander of the 21st NORAD Region and the 21st Air Division at Hancock Field, New York, from August 1982 to September 1983, and then served as Commander of the 24th NORAD Region and the 24th Air Division at Griffiss AFB, New York, from September 1983 until his retirement from the Air Force on October 1, 1985. Ken North died on September 21, 2010, and was buried at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the period from 3 August 1966 to 10 August 1966, while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions, and propaganda materials. Lieutenant Colonel North resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.