Died February 22,2002
Major General Walter E. Arnold is chief of staff of the Combined Military Planning Staff, Central Treaty Organization. In this position he directs an international planning staff composed of officers of the five CENTO nations whose mission is to plan and conduct various training exercises in the defense of the CENTO region.
Major General Arnold was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1913. He graduated from El Paso High School in 1932, and then completed four years of agricultural study at the University of Arizona.
He entered service May 27, 1936, as a second lieutenant reserve in the Cavalry. In October 1937, he was appointed an aviation cadet and entered primary flying school at Randolph Field, Texas. A year later, he received his wings at Kelly Field, Texas, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Corps in October 1938.
For three years following flight school, he served as a pilot at several Air Corps bases. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the 39th Bomb Group at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Ariz. In August 1942, he assumed command of the 330th Bomb Group at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas. Two months later, he became commander of the Arnold Provisional Group in Kansas. He delivered B-17s and their crews to Africa and England.
In February 1943, he took over command of the 29th Bomb Group in Idaho, and in September of the same year he assumed command of the 485th Combat Bomb Group in Nebraska. He led the 485th to Italy the following March and fought with it until his B-24 was shot down in flames over Blechammer, Germany Aug. 27, 1944. This was his 19th combat mission, over half of which he led. He was seriously wounded by flak, was held in a small German hospital, declared missing in action for more than six months. He was a prisoner of war until liberated May 5, 1945.
Returning to the United States, he became base commander at Salina, Kan., and in October 1945, he moved to Sioux City, Iowa, to become deputy commander and officer-in-charge of a separation center there. Three months later, in January 1946, he became deputy for plans of the Sacramento Air Materiel Area at McClellan Field, Calif. In August 1946, he was a member of the first class to attend the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
After graduation he was sent overseas to Okinawa where he served as assistant chief of staff for operations of the 1st Air Division, group commander of the 22nd Bomb Group and commander of the 316th Bomb Wing.
He was assigned to a Strategic Air Command reconnaissance wing at Fairfield-Suisun Field, Calif., upon his return to the United States in June 1949. Two months later, he entered the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va. After graduation in January 1950, he returned to Fairfield-Suisun to command the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.
On Oct. 1, 1953, he was named chief of staff for SAC's 15th Air Force with headquarters at March Air Force Base, Calif. He became commander of the 817th Air Division at Pease Air Force Base, N.H. Feb. 14, 1956.
From July 1959, until October 1961, he was director of flight safety for the U.S. Air Force's Office of the Deputy Inspector General for Safety at Norton Air Force Base, Calif. On Oct. 9, 1961, he became chief of staff for Tactical Air Command with Headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va. He was promoted to major general Feb. 17, 1962.
Major General Arnold assumed his present duties in July 1965.
His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal and Croix de Guerre with Palm.