William O. Butler was born in Marshall, Va., on Sept. 23, 1895. Following his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1917, he was appointed a second lieutenant of Field Artillery on April 20, 1917.
His first assignment was at Douglas, Ariz., with the 6th Field Artillery, the unit with which he went to France in August 1917. From Sept. 1 to Oct. 15, 1917, he was stationed at Valdahon, France, undergoing training as an aerial observer. Assigned to the front in Lorraine, near Einvelle, he served as an aerial observer with the 73rd Balloon Company from Nov. 1 to Nov. 20; was on duty at the Gondrecourt Training Center to Dec. 22, 1917; served at the front to the west of Toul as aerial observer with the 91st French Balloon Company to March 1, 1918; and from that time until June 1, 1918, he was on duty with the A.E.F., commanding Company B, 2nd Balloon Squadron. He was cited by General Pasaga, commanding the 32nd French Army Corps, for exceptionally meritorious and efficient service, and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.
In July 1918 he returned to the United States in charge of instruction at the U.S. Army Balloon School at Lee Hall, Va. In November 1919 he was transferred to Camp Pike, Ark., where he served with the 10th Field Artillery. He entered the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla., in January 1920 and graduated in December of that year.
In January 1921 he entered the Airship School at Langley Field, Va., completing the flying course there and remaining as a flying instructor until July 1922, when he became Commanding Officer of the 19th Airship Company at Langley Field. During May and June, 1925, he served as Operations Officer for the American balloon team competing in the International Balloon Race in Brussels, Belgium, for the Gordon-Bennett Trophy. On Sept. 12, 1925, he entered the Air Service Primary School at Brooks Field, Texas. He was transferred to Scott Field, Ill., in May 1926, where he served as Commanding Officer of the 12th Airship Company in addition to performing various other duties. In July 1929 he was sent to Nicholas Field, Philippine Islands. Most of his service in the Philippines was with the 4th Composite Group, where he performed such duties as Post Exchange Officer, Commanding Officer of the 66th Service Squadron, and Executive Officer of Camp Nichols and the 4th Composite Group.
He was transferred to Maxwell Field, Ala., in August 1931, where he attended the Air Corps Tactical School , from which he graduated in June 1932. He returned to Langley Field, Va., in July 1932 where he remained until August 1933 as Instructor in the Extension Course of the Air Corps School, 80th Division. For the period of a month he was on duty with the Civilian Conservation Corps. He then entered the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he graduated from the two-year course in June 1935. His next station was at the Air Corps Flying School, Randolph Field, Texas, from which he was transferred in June 1936 to Kelly Field, Texas, as a student in the Air Corps Advanced Flying School.
He successfully completed this school in December 1936 and moved to France Field, Panama Canal Zone, in command of a Bombardment Group and France Field. He transferred in July 1939 to Hamilton Field, Calif., with the 1st Wing. In March 1940 he went to March Field, Calif., as Executive Officer of that Wing, becoming Chief of Staff of the IV Air Force at March Field on Dec. 4, 1940. He was designated as Commanding General of the Army Air Forces at Fort Richardson, Alaska, on March 24, 1942.
He is rated as a balloon pilot, balloon observer, combat observer and airplane pilot.
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
He was promoted to first lieutenant on May 15, 1917; captain (temporary) on Aug. 5, 1917; major (temporary) on Aug. 17, 1918; captain (permanent) on Aug. 25, 1919. He transferred to the Air Service on July 1, 1920, and was promoted to major on Aug. 1, 1932; lieutenant colonel (temporary) on Aug. 26, 1926; lieutenant colonel (permanent) on June 1, 1940; colonel (temporary) on Nov. 16, 1940; to brigadier general (temporary) on March 14, 1942; and major general (temporary) on Oct. 25, 1942.
(Current as of Nov. 12, 1942)