Brigadier General John D. Billingsley was born in Fredricksburg, Virginia on November 4, 1904 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1928.
His association with Ordnance began in 1932 when he was transferred to the Ordnance Department. During his career, he commanded The Ordnance School and participated in the Inchon landing in Korea as the senior Ordnance officer.
But he distinguished himself most prominently while serving as Professor and Head of the Department of Ordnance at the U.S. Military Academy from 1951 to 1968. Early in his tenure as Professor of Ordnance, he transformed two Ordnance courses into Ordnance Engineering courses by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics to them. The two course texts, which were subsequently prepared under his guidance, have been highly acclaimed and frequently requested by governmental, industrial, and educational institutions. The texts have also been the basis for Ordnance Engineering courses developed by military academies of foreign countries allied with the U.S. His foresight in upgrading the courses to an engineering status enhanced the educational reputation of the Military Academy in academic and industrial circles, and better prepared cadets for careers in the Ordnance Corps.
He was instrumental in making many other significant changes in the Ordnance curriculum at the Military Academy, such as the introduction of other Ordnance Engineering courses and Ordnance research programs. His achievements as Professor and Head of the Department of Ordnance not only brought the highest credit upon the Military Academy, but also exerted a profound and lasting influence on the minds, character, and professional development of the thousands of cadets and Ordnance officers with whom he served. General Billingsley died in May 1976.