Joseph Taggart McNarney was born in 1893 at Emporium, Pa. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1915 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry. McNarney served with the 21st Infantry at Vancouver Barracks, Wash., and with the 37th Infantry at Yuma, Ariz. In July 1916 he became a first lieutenant and began flight training at San Diego, Calif. One year later he was rated a junior military aviator and transferred to the Signal Corps Aviation Section. He became an instructor in meteorology and radio telegraphy and was promoted to captain in May 1917.
McNarney went to France in 1917 and became an assistant to the 1st Corps Aeronautical School. He joined Headquarters Air Service in January 1918. McNarney helped direct the 2d Corps School and led flights of the 1st Aero Squadron in the Toul sector. He was promoted to major in June 1918. During the Chateau Thierry offensive he was commanding officer of the 1st Corps Observation Group, chief of Air Service of the 3d Corps, and on the staff of the chief of Air Service of the 1st Army. He commanded the Air Corps during the St. Mihiel offensive and the 5th Corps during the Meuse-Argonne battle. In February 1919 he became commanding officer of the 2d Army's Observation Group and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1919. While on duty at American Expeditionary Force Headquarters he Paris, McNarney wrote a manual on air observation.
He returned to the United States in October 1919 to take charge of the flying school at Gerstner Field, La. In September 1920 he reverted back to his grade of captain. He went to Langley Field, Va., in November remaining there five years as student and instructor in what became the Air Corps Tactical School. McNarney graduated with honors from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and spent the next three years in intelligence functions in the Air Section of the War Department General Staff. In August 1930 he completed the Army War College course and went to March Field, Calif., as commanding officer of the Primary Flying School, moving with it to Randolph Field, Texas. He also served as commanding officer of the 7th Bomb Group and executive officer of the 1st Bomb Wing at March Field.
McNarney was an instructor at the Army War College in Washington from August 1933 to March 1935, when he went to Langley Field, Va., as G-4, helping in the organization of the new General Headquarters Air Force. In July 1938 he was assigned to Hamilton Field, Calif., and in less than a year returned to Washington to serve in the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff.
McNarney became a member of the Joint Army-Navy Planning Committee in June 1939. The following March he was promoted to colonel after going up the promotion ladder the second time. In May he was appointed to the Canada-United States Permanent Defense Board. He became a brigadier general in April 1941. One month later he was assigned as chief of staff of a special Army observer group in London, serving until December 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor he served on the Roberts Commission which investigated the Army and Navy commanders in Hawaii. In January 1942 McNarney was promoted to major general and appointed to the War Department Reorganization Board. He became deputy chief of staff of the Army in March with promotion to lieutenant general in June. While deputy chief of staff, McNarney developed the plan of anti-submarine warfare and instructed General Arnold to organize a new bomber command, the Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command. McNarney ordered the bombers to attack hostile submarines "wherever they may be operating." This offensive measure eventually destroyed the German hold on sea lanes.
He went to Europe as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean Theater and commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces, Mediterranean Theater, in October 1944. He was promoted to full general in March 1945 and in September became acting supreme allied commander of the Mediterranean Theater. He became commanding general of the U.S. Forces in the European Theater and commander in chief, U.S. Forces of Occupation in Germany in November.
General McNarney returned to the United States as senior member of the United Nations Military Staff Committee in New York City in March 1947. He became commanding general of Air Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio in October. He left Air Materiel Command to become chief of the Department of Defense's Management Committee in September 1949. McNarney retired on Jan. 31, 1952 and has held executive positions with General Dynamics. He now lives in California.
General McNarney's awards include the Legion of Merit; Distinguished Service Medal with Three oak leaf clusters; Navy Distinguished Service Medal; British Knight Commander, Order of Bath; Yugoslavian White Eagle II Degree; Chile Order of Merit with Rosette; Brazilian Military Legion of Merit with Rosette and War Medal; Italian Decorations (three crowns); Knight Grand Cross; Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus; French Legion of Honor with Rosette, Grand Officer; Croix de Guerre with Palm; Belgian Grand Cross of Leopold I with Palm; Grand Croix de l'Ordre de la Couronne with Palm; Polish Virtuti Military Class II and Polonia Restituta Class II.