Major General (Ret.) Chuck Yeager is famous for being the first pilot to exceed the speed of Mach 1. In 1976, he was awarded a Congressional Silver Medal in recognition of having broken the sound barrier in the experimental aircraft Bell X1 in 1947. Yeager enlisted as a Private in the Army Air Forces in 1941 and became an aircraft mechanic. He demonstrated a natural ability as a pilot and received his wings and a promotion to flight officer in 1943. During World War II, he distinguished himself by becoming an Ace by shooting down five enemy aircraft in a single day. After the war, he transitioned into the Air Force to become a test pilot. In 1997, General Yeager ended more than 50 years of flying for the Air Force as an Ace fighter pilot, test pilot, commander and consultant. During a speech after his final flight, he stated, “All that I am … I owe to the Air Force.”
In 2004, Congress voted to authorize President George W. Bush to promote Yeager to the rank of Major General.