LIEUTENANT GENERAL HAROLD L. GEORGE
Died February 24,1986
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World War II leader of famed Air Transport Command. He was born in 1893 in Somerville, Mass. Harold George attended The George Washington University and on May 21, 1917 was commissioned a second lieutenant of Cavalry in the Officers Reserve Corps. He went on active duty with the Cavalry at Fort Myer, Va., in June but resigned his commission in October in order to take flying training as a cadet.
He studied aeronautics at Princeton University and learned to fly at Love Field, Dallas, getting his wings in March 1918. He went to France that September with initial assignment to the 7th Aviation Instruction Center at Clermont. Two months later he joined the Argonne front.
After the war George was assigned to the 49th Bombardment Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, where he was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1921. He next served with the 14th Bombardment Squadron at Langley Field, Va., and with the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. In August 1925 he went to Washington as chief of the Bombardment Section in Air Corps' Operations Division.
In July 1929 he was ordered to Hawaii for two years with the 5th Composite Group at Luke Field. He spent the next five years at Maxwell Field, Ala., completing the Air Corps Tactical School course and directing bomb instruction, air tactics and strategy, with promotion to major in July 1936.
He graduated from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the following year and returned to Langley as commanding officer of the 96th Bombardment Squadron. He then moved into command of the 2d Bombardment Group, first unit to be equipped with the B-17 Flying Fortress.
In July 1941 George was appointed assistant chief of staff for war plans of the newly created Air Staff in Washington. In that capacity he headed a board of officers who prepared the air plan for the air war against Germany. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in February 1941, to colonel in January 1942, and to brigadier general in April 1942 when he took command of the Air Corps Ferrying Command.
In June it was redesignated Air Transport Command. George led it brilliantly throughout World War II, with the able assistance of many staff officers including his deputy, General C.R. Smith, peacetime president of American Airlines.
New organizations were formed and new cross ocean routes were established in the face of the enemy and under conditions not then as commonplace as now. For this major contribution to his country, George received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal, as well as decorations from Great Britain, France, Brazil, Peru and China.
After the war he served for a while as director of information for the Air Force and as senior Air Force representative of the military staff of the United Nations. He retired from active duty Dec. 31, 1946, with rank of lieutenant general dating back to March 1945. In 1955 Harold George was recalled to active duty for eight months as special consultant to the Air Force Chief of Staff and relieved from active duty Nov. 4.