Reginald Carl Harmon was born in 1900 on a farm in Olney, Ill. His parents were direct descendants or early settlers of Illinois. At an early age, he accepted a schoolmaster's position at a country school. In 1922, he entered the University of Illinois. He began his law studies in the University of Illinois College of Law. In 1924 and received his bachelor of laws degree in l927. While a university student, General Harmon taught a Protestant Sunday School class consisting of university students. This religious teaching continued over a 10 year period. His average classes included some 100 to 150 students. During this period, and while teaching this class, he met him wife, Doris, also a graduate of the University of Illinois.
From his earliest years as the youngest mayor in the history of the city of Urbana, Ill., (1929-1933) and at the time the youngest in the United States of a town of that size, General Harmon set precedent and received national recognition as a bold and progressive administrator. In 1929, seizing the initiative amid a collapsing economy, he declared for his city the nation's first bank holiday closings to permit reorganization of the banks' assets, thereby averting bank failures experienced throughout the rest of the nation. He was returned to office for a second two-year term before returning to the practice of law. He has now been a member of the Illinois Bar for 30 years and of the United States Supreme Court Bar for 17 years.
General Harmon's military career had its inception with the University of Illinois Reserve Officers Training Corps which was the source of his commission as a second lieutenant (Field Artillery) in 1926. In October 1940, he was called to active duty in the military service at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, as a major in the Army Reserve Corps. From 1940 through 1945, he was in charge of the legal representation of the United States government in the industrial expansion program to meet the needs of the Army Air Corps during World War II. In recognition of his outstanding service in this position, he was awarded the Army Commendation Ribbon and, later, the Legion of Merit.
First Judge-Advocate General of the U.S. Air Force
From l945 to 1948, General Harmon was the staff judge advocate of the Air Materiel Command at Dayton, Ohio. In 1946, he was commissioned in the Regular Army. When the Department of the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, General Harmon, then serving with the Air Materiel Command, was logically included in the nucleus for a Judge Advocate General's Department of the Air Force. On Sept. 8, 1948, General Harmon (then a temporary colonel) was appointed by the president of the United States as the first judge advocate general of the U.S. Air Force and promoted to the temporary rank of major general. In 1951, he was promoted to the permanent rank of major general in the Regular Air Force.
As the judge advocate general of the Air Force, General Harmon currently supervises a force of approximately 1,200 lawyers, and more than 1,600 nonlawyers who are assigned to more than 400 different legal offices throughout the world. He is also the legal adviser to the chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, and his staff. By federal statute, he exercises general supervision over the administration of military justice within the Air Force. During a normal year, the Air Force will prosecute in the name of the United States more criminal cases (about 36,500 per year) than are filed by the attorney general in the U.S. district courts. This tremendous responsibility in the field of criminal law is equaled, if not surpassed, by the many facets of General Harmon's civil law responsibilities - c1aims, military affairs, patents, 1itigation, international law and procurement counseling.
Air Force Judge Advocate General's School
In 1950, he established the first Air Force Judge Advocate General's School at the Air University, Montgomery, Ala., designed to indoctrinate young officer-lawyers in the performance of judge advocate functions. Under his personal direction, a curriculum comparable to a civilian law school was developed covering major fields of law which members of the Air Force Judge Advocate General's Department are required to know. This school found its justification and fulfillment during the Korean Conflict when it produced the large number of trained military lawyers required to meet the wartime mission. Also, the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School produced the experienced lawyers that presently administer the system of military justice in the Air Force. They represent the staff judge advocates of tomorrow's Air Force commands.
Among the innovations introduced by General Harmon during his tenure as the judge advocate general of the Air Force was a new legal reporting system consisting of sets of volumes of military law. This system is now used by each of the Armed Forces. One set (the Court Martial Reports) contains the decisions of the Boards of Review in each of the Armed Forces, and the decisions of the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. The second set of volumes (Digests of Opinions of the Judge Advocates General of the Armed Forces) contains legal opinions of the judge advocates general of particular interest to judge advocates in the field. Both sets contain headnotes, annotations, indices, case tables and citators, and are similar to reporter systems used by civilian courts and attorneys.
Pursuant to his characteristic determination to ensure preparedness, General Harmon personally supervises the activities of the Judge Advocate General Department Reserve which he established. Now in its eighth year, this group of 1,500 stand-by officer-attorneys provides an augmentative force to the regular establishment. These officers are thoroughly trained to meet emergency legal requirements of the Air Force. Through special training groups in various Air Force active duty headquarters and through legal training flights throughout the nation (93 principal cities). General Harmon establishes and maintains the professional standards and training received by Reservists. The quality of the legal courses offered to his Reservists is ensured by the fact that they are prepared by the general's staff of experienced creative legal writers. Two field grade officers are assigned to full-time duties concerning JAG Reserve affairs.
Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree
It is not only the military that has recognized General Harmon's vital service to his country and to his profession. In 1951, the National University School of Law, Washington, D.C., (now consolidated with The George Washington University School of Law), conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) in recognition of his contribution to legal, education within and outside the scope of his official duties.
Delegate to United Nations Congress
In 1955 General Harmon was selected by the Department of State as one of the United States delegates to the First United Nations Congress In Geneva, Switzerland, on the subject of the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.
Country school, Richland County, Ill.
Olney Township High School, Olney, Ill.
University of Illinois - Bachelor of Laws, 1927
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Rank Temporary Permanent
Second Lieutenant 1926
First Lieutenant 1932
Lieutenant Colone1 1942 1947
Colonel 1942 1949
Major General 1948 1951
1926, commissioned second lieutenant (Field Artillery), University of Illinois Reserve officer Training Corps
October 1940, called to active duty at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, as a major in the Army Reserve Corps
1940-1945, in charge of the legal representation of the U.S. Government in the industrial expansion program to meet the needs of the Army Air Corps during World War II
1945-1948, staff judge advocate, Air Materiel Command, Dayton, Ohio
1946, commissioned in the Regular Army
1947, transferred regular commission to U.S. Air Force
Sept. 8, 1948, appointed by the president of the U.S. as the first judge advocate general of the U.S. Air Force and promoted to the temporary rank of major general
1951, promoted to permanent rank of major general in the Regular Air Force
September 1952, re-appointed as the judge advocate general
September 1956, re-appointed for the third time as the judge advocate general
American Defense Medal
American Theater Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army Commendation Ribbon
Legion of Merit April 15, 1946
Distinguished Service Medal Dec. 17, 1956
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with one Hour-Glass Device with "X"