Adlai H. Gilkeson was born in Lansdale, Pa., on Jan. 25, 1893. Following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., he was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry on June 12, 1915.
He first was assigned to the 11th Infantry, with which he served at Douglas, Ariz., from September 1915 to September 1916. Attached to the Aviation Section, Signal Corps, he completed his flying training at the Signal Corps Aviation School, San Diego, Calif., in May 1917, and was assigned to the 1st Aero Squadron at Columbus, N.M. He received the rating of Junior Military Aviator on June 20, 1917. From July until September 1917, he was Commandant of the School of Military Aeronautics, Princeton University, N.J., and from September 1917 to January 1918, he was on duty at Chanute Field, Ill. After serving as Engineer Officer at Rich Field, Texas, to April 1918, and as Officer in Charge of Flying at Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio, to August 1918, he returned to Chanute Field and was stationed there until January 1919.
Transferring to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., he commanded the 217th Aero Squadron until April 1919. He then was on duty at Hazelhurst Field, N.Y., until the following October when he joined the 60th Infantry at Camp Gordon, Ga., to August 1920. He then became Executive Officer at Carlstrom Field, Fla., to July 1921, and, prior to sailing for duty in the Philippines, served a little over a month at Crissy Field, Calif. After completing a two-year tour of duty in the Philippines as Commanding Officer of Clark Field and the 3rd Pursuit Squadron, he returned to the United States and was assigned to duty as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
He was detailed as a student at the Chemical Warfare School, Edgewood Arsenal, Md., from September to November 1925, and thereafter, until June 1928, remained on duty at this station as Air Corps Liaison Officer. He then was assigned as a student at the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field, Ohio, and graduated in July 1929. Thereafter, until September 1931, he was Chief of the Equipment Branch, Air Corps Materiel Division, Wright Field.
Following his graduation from the Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Ala., in June 1932, he was assigned to duty with the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Mich., as Executive Officer and Officer in Charge of Flying. While assigned to this station, he was on duty with the Civilian Conservation Corps for 13 months.
From November 1934 to March 1935, he served at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with the Organized Reserves, 8th Corps Area. In that month he became Commander of the 8th Pursuit Group at Langley Field, Va. He was detailed to the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in September 1938, graduating in June 1939. He then was assigned to Albrook Field, Panama Canal Zone, in command of an air base, and later assumed command of the 12th Pursuit Wing, additionally. In March 1942 he was named Commanding General of the 26th Interceptor Command, Albrook Field, and in October 1942, he became Commanding General of the III Fighter Command, Fla. In March 1944, he was assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater with station at Chengtu, China, in command of the 312th Fighter Wing. This organization was charged with the task of protection of the U.S. air bases used by our long-range bombardment airplanes in their raids on Japanese targets in Japan and Manchuria. Fighter raids on Japanese installations in China were conducted whenever meager gasoline supplies would permit.
In October 1944, he was transferred to the 10th Air Force operating in Burma. He was in charge of all air operations committed to the task of driving the Japanese out of North Burma and paving the way for the construction of the Ledo Road into China. The tasks of the 10th Air Force were many and diversified, including close-in fighter-bomber support for American, English and Chinese ground troops fighting in dense jungles; supply by air of food and ammunition to troops cut off from normal ground supply channels; supply of engineer troops engaged in building the Ledo Road; transport of Chinese troops from and to China; transport of gasoline and other supplies to the 14th Air Force in China, etc.
He is rated a command pilot, combat observer and aircraft observer.
He has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster. Following is the citation which accompanied the oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit:
"He performed outstanding service from October 1942 to March 1944. As Commanding General of the 3rd Fighter Command, through his professional attainments and leadership, he instituted and developed a fighter pilot training program that attained efficient and effective results. He increased the flying time per airplane and the production of pilots, and at the same time reduced the accident rate from 4.53 to 1.4 per 1,000 flying hours. His efficient system of processing fighter units and crews for overseas service resulted in a minimum of rejections or delay at the Port of Embarkation."
First lieutenant, July 1, 1916; captain, May 15, 1917; major (temporary), July 30, 1918. He reverted to his permanent rank of captain on Feb. 20, 1920, and was transferred to the Air Service on July 1, 1920. He was promoted to major of July 28, 1920; lieutenant colonel (temporary), March 2, 1935; lieutenant colonel (permanent), Dec. 24, 1936; colonel (temporary), March 1, 1940; brigadier general (temporary), Feb. 17, 1942.
(Current as of October 1946)