HomeAbout UsBiographiesDisplay

GENERAL CARL A. SPAATZ

PRINT | E-MAIL

General Carl A. Spaatz was the first chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

The general was born in 1891, in Boyertown, Pa. In 1910, he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated June 12, 1914, and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry. He served with the 25th United States Infantry at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, from Oct. 4, 1914, to Oct. 13, 1915, when he was detailed as a student in the Aviation School at San Diego, Calif., until May 15, 1916.

In June 1916, General Spaatz was assigned at Columbus, N.M., and served with the First Aero Squadron under Gen. John J. Pershing in the Punitive Expedition into Mexico. He was promoted to first lieutenant July 1, 1916, in May 1917 joined the Third Aero Squadron in San Antonio, Texas, and in the same month was promoted to captain.

General Spaatz went to France with the American Expeditionary Forces in command of the 31st Aero Squadron and, after Nov. 15, 1917, served in the American Aviation School at Issoundun continuously, except for one month at the British Front, until Aug. 30, 1918. In this period, he received a temporary promotion to major.

He joined the Second Pursuit Group in September 1918, as pursuit pilot in the Thirteenth Squadron, and was promoted to flight leader. He was officially credited with shooting down three German Fokker planes, and received the Distinguished Service Cross. In 1919 he served in California and Texas and became assistant department air service officer for the Western Department in July 1919. He reverted to his permanent rank of captain Feb. 27, 1920, but was promoted to major July 1, 1920.

As a major, he commanded Kelly Field, Texas, from Oct. 5, 1920, to February 1921, served as air officer of the Eighth Corps Area until November 1921, and was commanding officer of the First Pursuit Group, first at Ellington Field, Texas, and later at Selfridge Field, Mich., until Sept. 24, 1924. He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, Va., in June 1925, and then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington, D.C.

General Spaatz commanded the Army plane "Question Mark" in its refueling endurance flight over Los Angeles and vicinity Jan. 1-7, 1929, keeping the plane aloft a record total of 150 hours, 40 minutes and 15 seconds, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

From May 8, 1929, to Oct. 29, 1931, General Spaatz commanded the Seventh Bombardment Group at Rockwell Field, Calif., and the First Bombardment Wing at March Field, Calif., until June 10, 1933. He then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps and became chief of the Training and Operations Division. In August 1935, he enrolled in the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and while there was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He graduated in June 1936, and then served at Langley Field, until January 1939, when he returned to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington as assistant executive officer.

General Spaatz in November 1939, received a temporary promotion to colonel, and during the Battle of Britain in 1940, spent several weeks in England as a special military observer. In August 1940, he was assigned in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, and two months later was appointed assistant to the chief of Air Corps, with the temporary rank of brigadier general. He became chief of the Plans Division of the Air Corps in November 1940, and the following July was named chief of the air staff at Army Air Force Headquarters.

A few weeks after Pearl Harbor, in January 1942, General Spaatz was assigned as chief of the Army Air Force Combat Command at Washington and promoted to the temporary rank of major general. In May 1942, became commander of the Eighth Air Force, transferring to the European theater of operations in that capacity in July 1942, to prepare for the American bombing of Germany. His accomplishments earned him an award of the Legion of Merit. On July 7, he was appointed commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces in the European Theater, an addition to his duties as commander of the Eighth. His promotion to the permanent rank of colonel was made on Sept. 17, 1942.

On Dec. 1, 1942, General Spaatz became commanding general of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa. In February 1943, he assumed command of the Northwest African Air Force, which he organized. He received a temporary promotion to lieutenant general March 12, 1943.

After Rommel's Afrika Korps had been driven out of the North Africa and the invasion of Italy was launched, General Spaatz became deputy commander of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, including the 12th Air Force in Africa and the 15th Air Force and the Royal Air Force in Italy. He returned to England in January 1944, to command the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, which he headed throughout the pre-invasion period and the ensuing campaign which culminated with the utter defeat of Germany. His service in Africa won an award of the Distinguished Service Medal, and the accomplishments of his Strategic Air Force in 1944, earned him the Robert J. Collier Trophy for that year, awarded annually to the American making the outstanding contribution to aviation.

General Spaatz received a temporary promotion to general March 11, 1945, and was assigned to Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., in June 1945. The following month he assumed command of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, with headquarters on Guam. There he supervised the final strategic bombing of Japan by the B-29, including the two atomic bomb missions. He was present at all three signings of unconditional surrender by the enemy, at Rheims, Berlin and Tokyo.

In October 1945, General Spaatz returned to Army Air Force Headquarters, and the same month President Harry S. Truman nominated him for promotion to the permanent rank of major general in the Regular Army. In February 1946, he was nominated to become commander of the Army Air Forces. In September 1947, he was appointed by President Truman as the first chief of staff of the new United States Air Force until April 30, 1948.

He retired with the rank of general on June 30, 1948.

General Spaatz was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and Bronze Star Medal. He also has the Mexican Interior Campaign ribbon, the World War I ribbon with three battle stars, the pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon with star, the European Theater ribbon with six stars, the Pacific Theater ribbons, the American Theater ribbon, and the World War II Victory ribbon. His foreign honors include a Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, a Grand Commander of the British Empire, Russia's Second Order of Suvorov and Poland's Polonia Restituta, Commander's Cross with Star.

General Spaatz died July 14, 1974, at the age of 83. He was interred at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Engage

Twitter
RT @366FW: Air Force Chief of Staff @GenCQBrownJr shares some words of wisdom with our Gunfighters! Our Airmen continue to #acceleratecha
Twitter
April is recognized as the Month of the Military Child. The ever-changing military lifestyle impacts every member o… https://t.co/hmvocXQaGL
Twitter
Airmanship 200 is the second of three development courses that new #Airmen receive to better understand #AirForce v… https://t.co/1rueS9ToLP
Twitter
#ICYMI -- The Department of the Air Force published a website where #Airmen and @SpaceForceDoD #Guardians can acces… https://t.co/0YJcST5XaT
Twitter
Combating #COVID19 one shot at a time. https://t.co/EVyenHCi5D
Twitter
The Department of the Air Force-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Accelerator is helpin… https://t.co/cfsdOX43hY
Twitter
.@LRAFB, Arkansas, Airmen completed 106 sorties, 254 flying hours, and nearly 2,000 training events during a multi-… https://t.co/3YOSh8DvcT
Twitter
Today is Gold Star Spouses Day. It honors the surviving loved ones of military service members killed in the line o… https://t.co/JYCacpkds5
Twitter
Everyone is susceptible to invisible wounds. These wounds have an impact can develop at any time, in any place, in… https://t.co/XxPKyovJc9
Twitter
#AirForce Civil Engineer Center Operation Directorate teams are following safety protocols and working closely with… https://t.co/4IjMrV240S
Twitter
RT @grandslamwing: Beware of frostbite 🥶 Our #TeamAUAB cryogenics team brave the heat of the flightline to deliver aircrew the frigid, but…
Twitter
Being able to recognize an invisible wound could save a life. Learn more about available resources here:… https://t.co/M9JOy6XRWn
Twitter
“When you believe in something, you just have to put your heart and soul into it and don’t worry about what the res… https://t.co/K44qwDwFMG
Twitter
Second Lt. Max Atkinson, a student pilot in the 71st Student Squadron at Vance AFB saved the life of a local motorc… https://t.co/SHv1e8Te6M
Twitter
The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron conducted four functional ground tests of the Air Launched Cruise Missile at… https://t.co/jerYunV1vQ
Twitter
RT @CENTCOM: #Airmen from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing @grandslamwing participated in the recent @USAFCENT's Agile Combat Employment ca…
Twitter
The Department of the #AirForce held a Virtual Industry Day on the Advanced Battle Management System acquisition ef… https://t.co/h36eGxfMKJ
Twitter
Take a look at the most recent Week in Photos! Which one is your favorite? More at: https://t.co/thFY9KXqud https://t.co/KzHQlzTovo
Twitter
Give CSAF Gen. Brown a follow at @GenCQBrownJr to get the latest insight about his strategic vision to… https://t.co/AgAHxPjkQJ
Twitter
.@USAF_ACC's U-2 Federal Laboratory at Beale AFB, California, executed the first rapid, successful in-flight test o… https://t.co/xD8fFXpXtX
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,340,295
Follow Us