Died May 31,1966
General William H. Blanchard, a commander of strategic bombing operations in World War II and now vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, began his distinguished military career as a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1938.
A native of Boston, Mass., General Blanchard received his high school education in Chelsea, Mass., and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy before entering West Point in 1934.
After completing pilot training at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas, in 1939, he held assignments as a flight instructor and as chief of advanced pilot training in the Flying Training Command, before his selection in 1943 for duty with the initial B-29 bomber wing then being formed in Salina, Kan.
In 1944, General Blanchard, as deputy commander of the 58th Bomb Wing, flew the first B-29 into China to begin his participation in strategic bombing operations against the Japanese mainland. Later, assigned as commander of the 40th Bomb Group (B-29) and subsequently as operations officer of the 21st Bomber Command in the Marianas, he planned and flew low-level fire raids against major Japanese targets.
In the climaxing phase of World War II, General Blanchard was directed to prepare and supervise the detailed operations order for the delivery of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
After the war, he again had occasion to apply his knowledge of atomic bombing operations when, as commander of the 509th Bombardment Wing, he was called upon to participate in the "Operation Crossroads" atomic tests at Bikini atoll.
Assigned to Strategic Air Command's Eighth Air Force Headquarters as director of operations in 1948, General Blanchard helped direct the atomic training of crews for B-36s, our first intercontinental bombers. After commanding B-50 and B-36 bomber units of SAC, he was assigned as deputy director of operations for that command in 1953.
In June 1956, he was a member of a select group of U.S. Air Force officers who accompanied General Nathan Twining, then chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, on an official visit to the Soviet Union which included a conducted tour of points of military interest in the Moscow and Stalingrad areas.
General Blanchard assumed command of SAC's Seventh Air Division in England in 1957. Returning to SAC headquarters three years later, he was assigned as director of operations.
After 15 years of continuous service in SAC, he was appointed the inspector general, U.S. Air Force, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. In August 1963 he was named deputy chief of staff, programs and requirements in Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and assumed the duty as deputy chief of staff, plans and operations, in February 1964. He was assigned the additional duty as senior Air Force member, Military Staff Committee of the United Nations, later that year.
On Feb. 19, 1965, General Blanchard became vice chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, with promotion to four-star rank. In this position, he bears a large share of the responsibility of managing the vast human and material resources of the world's most powerful aerospace force.
His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, the presidential Unit Citation and the Asiatic Pacific Medal with six bronze stars. He wears the missile badge and command pilot wings.