Major General Paul L. Williams, a veteran of more than 33 years of military service, is one of the Air Force's most experienced airborne tacticians.
As head of the Ninth Troop Carrier Command during World War II, he was responsible for the airlift for the mass landings in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, southern France, Holland and Germany, including transport for the 17th, 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. His C-47s also were largely responsible for the air supply of General George Patton's Third Army in its drive across Europe.
He was born in Detroit in 1894. When he was a boy, his family moved to Los Angeles, and he graduated from Leland Stanford University at Palo Alto, Calif., in 1917 with a bachelor of arts degree. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve April 28, 1917. The following October he enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps, receiving his wings and a second lieutenant's commission in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve on Feb. 19, 1918.
In April of that year he was ordered to Carlstrom Air Force Base, Texas, and moved to Gerstner Air Force Base, La., the following December. In November 1919 he went to Calexico, Calif., for border patrol duty with the Ninth Aero Squadron, and served with that squadron at Rockwell and Mather Air Force bases in California from December 1919 to December 1920. Meanwhile he received a regular Army commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Service on July 1, 1920 and was promoted to first lieutenant the same day.
He became post transportation officer at Mather Air Force Base in January 1921 and in July of that year went to Clark Air Force Base at Camp Stotsenburg Philippine Islands for duty with the Third Pursuit Squadron. In September 1925 he was transferred to Kindley Air Force Base at Fort Mills, Philippine Islands, where he joined the Second Observation Squadron, serving in post and squadron staff duties. Returning to the United States, he became operations officer for the 96th Bombardment Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
He served at the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, from June to October 1927 and became a flying instructor at the primary flying school at March Air Force Base, Calif., where he was appointed director of flying in July 1930.
In October 1931 he was named director of basic flying training at the primary flying school at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He became director of flying training at the Training Center at Randolph Air Force Base in September 1935.
He entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in August 1936, and graduated the following June. His next assignment was at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., as commander of the 90th Attack Squadron of the Third Attack Group. In September 1940 he became operations officer of the Third Bombardment Group at Barksdale Air Force Base, retaining his position when the group moved to Savannah, Ga., Air Force Base, and assuming command of it in December 1940.
In July 194l he became commanding officer of the 27th Bombardment Group at Savannah Air Force Base.
In May 1942 he went to England as one of the first members of the Eighth Air Force. There he aided in the preparation of the Eighth's strategic bombardment campaign against German industry, although his principal task became troop carrier work in the Mediterranean and on the Western Front.
In February 1944 he was named commanding general of the Ninth Troop Carrier Command and on D-Day in Normandy he directed an air armada of more than 1,000 C-47s and 900 gliders. In mid-August 1944 he directed the airborne operations preceding the landings in southern France. Returning to England, he led approximately l,200 planes and gliders to the northern flank of the Seigfried Line in Holland on Sept. l7, 1944, in the initial operation of the First Allied Airborne Army.
In July 1945 General Williams returned to the United States, retaining his position as head of the Ninth Troop Carrier Command, which had been moved to Stout Air Force Base, Ind.
He went to Greenville, S.C., in April l946 as commanding general of the Third Air Force, and in November of that year, when the Third was inactivated he assumed command of the Ninth Air Force at Greenville. In August 1947 he took over the Second Air Force, with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Neb.
The following July, when the Second was absorbed by the 10th Air Force, General Williams become commander of the 10th Air Force, with headquarters at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. The 10th Air Force is responsible for protection of vital areas in the middle west against attacks from the north, northwest, or west, and is bounded on the west by Wyoming and Colorado, on the east by Michigan and Illinois, and on the south by Kansas said Missouri.
In January 1950 he moved with the 10th Air Force to Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich. The following April he was transferred to Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C., for temporary duty as a member of the Air Force Personnel Board.
Among General Williams' military awards are the Distinguished Service Medal, presented for his leadership of troop carrier operations in Normandy and Holland, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for his work in the North African Invasion. He also holds an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit, the French Legion of Honor and the title of British Knight Commander of the Bath.
He is rated a command pilot, combat observer, aircraft observer and technical observer.
(Up to date as of April 1950)