LIEUTENANT GENERAL LAURENCE CARBEE CRAIGIE
Died February 27,1994
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First U.S. Armed Services pilot to fly a jet plane. Born in Concord, N.H., in 1902, Laurence Carbee Craigie graduated from Stoneham High School in 1919 and the U.S. Military Academy in June 1923, being commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Service. He took flying training at Brooks and Kelly fields, Texas, and was a flying instructor at both places. He was promoted to first lieutenant in December 1927.
In February 1929 he went to France Field, Panama Canal Zone, with the 7th Observation Squadron. He returned to Brooks in May 1931 and went to Randolph Field, Texas the following October for varied assignments. Craigie graduated as a captain from the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Ohio, Training and Transport Engineering Unit of the Materiel Division there.
He was named assistant chief of the Engineering Section in July 1937. In June 1939 he graduated from the Army Industrial College and assigned as assistant executive of the Experimental Engineering Section at Wright-Patterson with rank of major. He then attended the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., graduating in March 1941. Named assistant of the Aircraft Projects Branch at Wright-Patterson he became chief of the branch in July 1941 and was promoted lieutenant colonel that November.
In October 1942, Craigie, then a colonel, became the first pilot of the Armed Forces to fly a jet-propelled plane when he piloted the XP-59 on its initial flight at Muroc Dry Lake, Calif., March 1943 he was assigned briefly to the 1st Fighter Command at Mitchel Field, N.Y., and the following month took command of the Boston Air Defense Wing in Mass. Three months later he commanded the New York Fighter Wing and was advanced to brigadier general in September.
That November he returned to Mitchel as commanding general of the 87th Fighter Wing. He went to the North African Theater in March 1944 as commander of the 12th Air Force's 63rd Fighter Wing. In November 1944 he vas back at Wright-Patterson as deputy chief of the Air Technical Service's Engineering Division. He became chief of the division in August 1945 and was promoted to major general in July 1946.
In 1947 he became chief of the Research and Engineering Division at Headquarters Army Air Force. That October he was appointed Director of Research and Development under the deputy chief of staff for materiel at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and the following September returned to Wright-Patterson as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology. Craigie became vice commander of the Far East Air Forces in Tokyo in July 1950 and returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in November 1951 as deputy chief of staff for development. He was promoted to lieutenant general July 5, 1952. In April 1954 he took command of the Allied Air Forces in Southern Europe, at Naples, Italy.
(From the U.S. Air Force Biographical Dictionary)