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New U.S. Four-Star General A Bret Harte Grad

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Angels Camp, CA – The nation’s newest Four-Star General is a Calaveras County native and a Bret Harte High School graduate.

U.S. Air Force Four-Star General James B. Hecker was promoted to the post on June 27th. The school’s superintendent, Scott Nanik, noted that as a Bret Harte graduate General Hecker is evidence that great things can come from small places. Nanik quoted from a recent interview that Gen. Hecker gave, where he stated that he credits his accomplishments in the U.S. Air Force to “core values and discipline that I received from my parents, school teachers, and coaches during the younger stages of my life.”

Currently, he is the Commander of the U.S. Airforce in Europe and Africa while also serving as Commander of Allied Air Command, which is headquartered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. He is the director of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre in Kalkar, Germany, as well. Nanik noted that means he is responsible for the air and missile defense of 30 NATO alliance member nations while also commanding U.S. airpower across an area that includes 104 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

When asked during the interview what he remembers about his time growing up in Calaveras County, Gen. Hecker stated, “I remember the small-town atmosphere and the friendliness of the community.” Gen. Hecker also added that “growing up in a small community was very influential early in my life. Seeing how everyone cared for each other in that community stayed with me.” Regarding his connections to the county, he stated, “I still have friends from high school, and I still keep in touch with (those) that still live there, I recently returned to be inducted into the ‘Athletic Hall of Fame.’”

Gen. Hecker’s background includes a Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Starting his career as a Second Lieutenant, Hecker rose through the ranks to First Lieutenant in 1991, Major in 1999, Lieutenant Colonel in 2002, and Colonel in 2007. He became Brigadier General in 2013, Major General in 2016, Lieutenant General in 2019, and then advanced to General.

When asked during the interview what advice Gen. Hecker would give to today’s high school students, he replied, “Pursue your dreams and don’t let anyone discourage you by telling you that you can’t. Study hard; the dedication and effort you put in now will have a profound impact on your life later on.”

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