James Yeager was born on January 10, 1935, in Saginaw, Michigan. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force on February 24, 1955, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas, on August 29, 1956. After completing All-Weather Interceptor training and F-102 Delta Dagger Combat Crew Training, Lt Yeager served as an F-102 pilot with Air Defense Command in the Continental United States until July 1961. His next assignment was as an F-106 Delta Dart pilot with the 317th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from July 1961 to January 1964, followed by RF-101 Voodoo Tactical Reconnaissance training, and then service as an RF-101 pilot with the 20th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from June 1964 to June 1967. During this time, Maj Yeager deployed to Southeast Asia numerous times between September 1964 and December 1966. He then deployed with the 20th TRS to Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June to November 1967, followed by service as a Reconnaissance Duty Officer with the 6250th Support Squadron at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, from November 1967 to March 1968. His next assignment was as an O-1 Bird Dog and O-2 Milirole Forward Air Controller (FAC) with the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from March to June 1968, and then as an Operations Staff Officer and Briefing Officer with Headquarters Pacific Air Command at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from June 1968 to July 1970. He attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from July 1970 to June 1971, and then served as an O-1 FAC with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron at DaNang AB, South Vietnam, from November 1971 to January 1972. His next assignment was as an O-1 FAC with Detachment 1, 56th Special Operations Wing at Udorn Royal Thai AFB from January to December 1972. LtCol Yeager served as an O-2 Evaluator with the Aircrew Evaluation Division at Hickam AFB before retiring from the Air Force on December 31, 1976.
His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:
Major James A. Yeager distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 15 October 1972. On that date, Major Yeager flew his aircraft under adverse conditions through intensive ground fire in support of free world forces. He continuously flew passes with his battle damaged aircraft to accurately mark the target, causing heavy damages against the opposing hostile forces positions and targets. Through his personal bravery and energetic application of his knowledge and skill he significantly furthered the goal of the United States in Southeast Asia. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Major Yeager has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.