John Dramesi was born on February 12, 1933, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at Rutgers University, New Jersey, on July 29, 1955, and went on active duty beginning January 24, 1956. Lt Dramesi next completed pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Laredo AFB, Texas, in March 1957, followed by F-84F Thunderstreak Combat Crew Training in September 1957. His first assignment was as an F-100 Super Sabre pilot with the 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, from September 1957 to May 1959, and then as an F-100 pilot with the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Myrtle Beach from May 1959 to March 1963. Capt Dramesi next served as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot with the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, from March 1963 to June 1964, followed by service as a Forward Air Controller and Air Liaison Officer with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, from June 1964 to September 1966. He then served as an O-1 Bird Dog Forward Air Controller with the 505th Tactical Control Group at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, and then as an F-105 pilot with the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from September 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on April 2, 1967. After spending 2,164 days in captivity, LtCol Dramesi was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Andrews AFB, Maryland, and then attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., from August 1973 to June 1974. After completing F-111 Aardvark Combat Crew Training, he served as an F-111 pilot and Operations Officer with the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, from December 1974 to April 1975, and as Commander of the 390th from May 1975 to April 1976. His next assignment was as Chief of the Weapons Tactics Division with the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home from April to August 1976, followed by service as Director of Combat Operations with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from September 1976 to August 1978. Col Dramesi next served as Assistant Chief and then Chief of the Tactical Forces Division on the staff of Headquarters U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon from August 1978 to November 1979, and then as an FB-111A pilot with the 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, New York, from November 1979 to June 1981. His final assignment was as Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Pease AFB, New Hampshire, from June to December 1981, retiring from the Air Force on February 1, 1982.
His 2nd Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Section 8742, Title 10, United States Code, awards the Air Force Cross to Lieutenant Colonel John A. Dramesi for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from May 1969 to November 1969. For a full year, Colonel Dramesi planned an escape from a North Vietnamese prison camp near the edge of the city of Hanoi and escaped on the evening of 10 May 1969. Though later recaptured, this escape resulted in great embarrassment to the enemy and materially lifted the morale of all American prisoners in the camp. Though severely tortured, Colonel Dramesi refused to give information or submit to any demands. Many more brutalities were heaped upon him, and he remained in irons for six months. By his extraordinary heroism, loyalty, and discipline in the face of the enemy, Colonel Dramesi reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.