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MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE HOWARD BRETT

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George Howard Brett was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 7, 1886. Although he never completed high school, he graduated with second honors from Virginia Military Institute in three years. He accepted a commission in the Philippine Scouts and served with them for more than two years.

In 1911, he was appointed a second lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry, which took him first to Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1912, and then to Fort Ethan Allen, Vt., in 1914. He received his wings in September 1916 and was assigned to Washington, D.C., in the office of the Chief Signal Officer.

In September 1917, he went overseas and served in both England and France with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, as Assistant and, later, Chief of the Materiel Division. During this period he was promoted to major. 

The war's end brought him to Kelly Field, Texas, as the Commanding Officer of the San Antonio Air Depot, and then he went back to Washington, D.C., in 1919 of the Office of the Chief of Air Service. He served as Commander of Crissey Field, Calif., from 1921 to 1924.

In 1927, he was assigned as Chief of the Field Service Station at Fairfield, Ohio, which was followed with duty as a student of the Air Corps Tactical School at Langley Field, Va., and later (1928) first and second year courses, with concurrent responsibilities at the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He became Commander of the First Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Mich., from 1930 to 1933.

His duty at Selfridge was followed by duty as the Senior Instructor in Aviation at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, with the appointment to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1934. He attended the Army War College in 1935 and was appointed to brigadier general (temporary) with an assignment as Commander of the Composite Wing at Albrook Field in the Canal Zone until the fall of 1938. He then served at Langley Field as Chief of Staff at General Headquarters, Air Corps; Chief, Materiel Division; and later as Assistant Chief of the Air Corps, War Department, with appointment to major general in October 1940.

In May 1941, the general was selected as Chief of the Air Corps, a position that directly involved him in the critical projects of procurement and maintenance of aircraft and equipment, and the training of personnel for the rapidly expanding Air Corps. In August 1941, he was sent to the British War Fronts to study problems with military aviation. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was immediately appointed as Second in Command under Sir Archibald Wavell, South Western Pacific Area, and later Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Forces, Australia. He was appointed to lieutenant general in January 1942. During that year he was appointed as Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command and Panama Canal Department, retiring from that position in the rank of major general.

General Brett was rated a command pilot, combat observer and technical observer, and he held honorary commissions in five Central and South American countries. During his 35 years of active service, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also received decorations from 17 foreign countries, including the Order of the Orange-Nassau of the Netherlands and Knight Commander Order of the Bath of Great Britain.

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