Died June 03,1967
Lt. Gen. Glen Robbins Birchard is commander in chief of the Alaskan Command. The Alaskan Command has the responsibility for welding Army, Navy and Air Force components in Alaska into a smoothly functioning team defending the polar gateway to the heartland of the United States.
Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1914, he graduated from Bay City High School, Bay City, Mich. He majored in business administration at Bay City College, graduating in 1934. He is also a graduate of the Air War College, 1953.
General Birchard's career is filled with "firsts." During World War II he piloted a B-24 bomber in the first air strike against Wake Island. He flew in the first night-fire raids on Tokyo and, during the Korean War, he flew the first aircraft into Kimpo after the Inchon Bay landings in 1950. He also participated in the first airdrop behind enemy lines there.
He became a flying cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1938 and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation in February 1939. His first overseas assignment came in 1942 at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, where he was based while flying air strikes against Japanese-held island strongholds in the Pacific. During that combat tour he led a flight of three Liberators from Funafuti Island on a photographic mission over Tarawa. Films acquired during the mission were used in planning the successful amphibious landing our forces completed against that enemy stronghold. In January 1943 he transferred to Guadalcanal. He departed the Solomons for Biggs Field, E1 Paso, Texas, where he was in command from May to August 1944.
General Birchard then was appointed liaison officer to the Air Corps Board, Orlando, Fla. From there he was sent on temporary duty to the Pacific Theater where he conducted formal evaluations of fighter-escorted B-29 raids made in daylight hours.
At the end of World War II he left the Air Force and took a position with Trans-World Airlines. After one year he was recalled to active duty. Accepting a regular Air Force commission, he was assigned to Germany with the Air Transport Command, the forerunner of Military Air Transport Service.
With the advent of the Berlin Airlift, General Birchard formed and commanded the first C-54 wing to take part in that operation. Also, he developed airlift procedures that enabled the Air Force to maintain a high intensity flow of aircraft into Berlin. Later, he became the director of operations for the Combined Airlift Task Force, Germany.
In September 1949 he returned to the United States as commander of the 1703d Air Transport Wing, Brookley Air Force Base, Ala. In August of 1950, General Birchard was assigned the task of establishing the Northern Pacific Transport Wing at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. This wing was formed for the specific task of transporting troops to Korea at the outset of the Korean War. In October, he joined the Combat Cargo Command in Ashiya as chief of staff and vice commander where he remained until January 1951 and then returned to his command at the 1703d Air Transport Wing, Brookley Air Force Base, Ala. In September 1951, he was assigned to the task of reopening the air base at West Palm Beach, Fla., and establishing the Military Air Transport Service Transition Training Unit.
General Birchard entered the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in August 1952. Upon graduation, he was transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he served for three years as chief of personnel requirements and analysis Division. He then returned to MATS and until April 1958 was deputy commander of MATS' Continental Division at Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
In April 1958 he was appointed deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters MATS, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. In addition, in 1959 he was appointed a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
He departed from his post as deputy chief of staff for operations, MATS, in July 1961 to assume command of Western Transport Air Force (MATS), Travis Air Force Base, Calif. In July 1963 he was assigned as vice commander, Military Airlift Command, and on Aug. 1, 1966 he assumed his present position.
General Birchard's decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters.
(Current as of Aug. 1, 1966)
General Birchard was drowned June 3, 1967, while a passenger aboard a float plane that overturned on take off near Anchorage, Alaska.