Died February 22,1957
Hubert Reilly Harmon, after a distinguished combat career in World War II, was instrumental in developing plans for the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was the first superintendent of the academy and was one of the persons most influential in establishing it as a successful educational institution.
Hubert R. Harmon was born in 1892 at Chester, Pa. He attended the Polytechnic Preparatory School at Brooklyn, N.Y. for two years before entering the U.S. Military Academy from which he graduated and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps June 12, 1915.
Harmon's first assignment was at Fort Monroe, Va., until December 1915, when he was transferred to Fort Andrews, Mass. He became adjutant at Fort Andrews in May 1916 and two months later was promoted to captain May 15, 1917 and after graduation in June 1917, went to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In September 1917 he was assigned to Kelly Field, Texas, where he organized and served as commandant of the Ground Officer's Training School. He later served as aeronautical officer for the Southern Department and then as engineer officer of Kelly Field. In March 1918, he was appointed executive officer at Taliaferra Field, Texas, and a month later was placed in charge of Barron Field, Texas.
In September 1918, Harmon went to Europe where he completed advanced training in pursuit aviation at Issoudun, France. In January 1918, he became chief of staff of the Air Service Command of the Third Army at Coblenz, Germany, and in September of that year moved to London, England as aviation officer for the United States Liquidation Mission. On July 1, 1920 he transferred to the Air Service.
Harmon, in October 1920, was assigned as assistant executive in the Office of the Chief of the Air Service at Washington, D.C. During this tour of duty he also served as an aide at the White House. In July 1924, he was transferred to Bolling Field, D.C., and a month later moved to McCook Field, Ohio, where he entered the Air Service Engineering School, from which he graduated in August 1925.
He returned to the Office of the Chief of the Air Service in March 1926 and became chief of the Information Division. During this tour of duty he again served as an aide at the White House. From March 1927 to May 1929, Harmon was military attache for aviation in London. He then was assigned as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy. In August 1932, he entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., and graduated the following June. He then entered the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and graduated two years later. In July 1935, Harmon was appointed executive and operations officer of the First Wing, General Headquarters Air Force, March Field, Calif. In August 1936, he was made commander of the 19th Bombardment Group and was promoted to lieutenant colonel Oct. 1, 1936. Harmon entered the Army War College in July 1937 and graduated in June 1938. He was then assigned to the War Department General Staff as chief of the Operations Branch, Personnel Division.
Harmon was promoted to colonel March 1, 1940. In September of the same year he assumed command of the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, and on Sept. 30 was promoted to brigadier general. A year later he was named commanding general of the Gulf Coast Air Corps Training Center at Randolph Field, Texas. In November 1942, General Harmon was appointed commanding general of the 6th Air Force and a month later was promoted to major general. He was promoted to lieutenant general Feb. 19, 1943. In November 1943, he was appointed deputy commander for the Air Forces of the South Pacific Area and in January 1944 he assumed command of the 13th Air Force in that area. General Harmon was appointed commander of the 6th Air Force (later redesignated the Caribbean Air Command) in June 1944.
In October 1947, General Harmon was appointed senior Air Force member of the Military and Naval Staff Committee of the United Nations with station at New York City. In May 1948, he was given the additional duty of United States delegate to the Inter-American Defense Board, and in December 1949 was given another additional duty as special assistant for air academy matters at Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C.
General Harmon retired from active duty Feb. 27, 1953, and was recalled to active duty the following day with the same duties. He reverted to retired status June 30, 1953. He was again called back to active duty as a lieutenant general Nov. 8, 1953, at the request of the president of the United States, to become special assistant to the chief of staff for air academy matters.
On Aug. 14, 1954, General Harmon became the first superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy at its temporary home, Lowry Air Force Base, Colo.
General Harmon reverted to retired status July 31, 1956, and died Feb. 22, 1957 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
Decorations and awards received by General Harmon include the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak Leaf clusters; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal; Commendation Ribbon; World War I Victory Medal; Army of Occupation of Germany Medal (World War I); American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Aviation Badge "Command Pilot," Panamanian Order of Balboa; Peruvian Military Order of Ayacacho, Grand Officer; Peruvian Aviation Cross, First Class; Ecuadorian Star of Adbon Calderon, First Class; Belgium Commander, Order of Leopold with Palm.
**On April 1, 2004, in celebration of the U.S. Air Force Academy's 50th Anniversary, Lt. Gen. Hubert R. Harmon was named ''The Father of the U.S. Air Force Academy."
According to the memorandum, signed by Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, "General Harmon's efforts directly resulted in the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy. His visionary leadership has earned him this title.
"General Harmon was a crucial force in the conception and founding of the U.S. Air Force Academy; this role became the capstone of his career. Almost as soon as the Stearns-Eisenhower Board issued its report on the service academies in 1949, General Harmon was assigned as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Air Force Academy matters with responsibility for all planning of the future academy. He took this trust very seriously, and personally coordinated all issues concerning the planning, location, and beginnings of the new institution. He and a small staff worked with Congress to draft the legislation that established the Academy on April 1, 1954. Though retired in 1953, after thirty eight years of service, he returned to active service in November of that year at the request of President Eisenhower, and took his last assignment in August 1954 as first Superintendent of the new Academy. Sacrificing his already failing health, he served for almost two more years before retiring in July 1956. He died in 1957 of lung cancer.
"General Harmon's contributions to establish the Academy and its legacy as a world-class leadership and academic proving ground deserve our respect and admiration. His achievements have a lasting impact on our Air Force and the officers who graduate from this fine institution."