Brigadier General John R. Pierce, Jr., was born in Celina, Ohio on August 16, 1923. He completed his undergraduate degree in business administration at Babson Institute in Massachusetts.
Following nearly three years as a cavalryman in the Ohio National Guard, he enlisted in the Army in 1943. In December, 1944, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant of Ordnance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
Following service in the Luzon campaign, he served with the 8th Army during the occupation of Japan. From 1949 to 1950, he was a company commander and adjutant of troops at the Ordnance School. Following service at Raritan Arsenal; Fort Hayes, Ohio; and the Far Eastern Command in Korea, he served for nine years (1958-1967) in successively more responsible posts in Washington. This culminated in a two-year tour as Chief of Resource Management in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army. His later assignments took him to Germany and Vietnam, where he served successively as commander of the Da Nang Sub Area Command and as commanding officer of the 80th General Support Group. The years 1968 to 1971 found him serving in four posts in Germany, the last of which was as Deputy Commanding General for Area Support for TASCOM.
In his final assignment, as Commanding General of the Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, he implemented the hands-on curriculum still followed today. In one instance, he decided to build five helicopter trainers, used for aviation maintenance courses at Aberdeen. By building these devices locally, rather than buying them from the manufacturer, he greatly enhanced training while saving the Army $833,500. He also did much to improve the living conditions of soldiers and their families by working to improve troop facilities and family housing, and by taking steps to assist Army spouses in their increasingly difficult role. Brigadier General Pierce retired after 33 years of service in 1973 and died in Washington, D.C. in August 1983.