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Westside T. Larson was born in Vernalia, Calif., on April 18, 1892. He was educated at the Polytecnic College of Engineering in Oakdale, Calif. He became a civil engineer. He enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps Reserve on Oct. 19, 1917. He completed his Ground School at Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 2, 1918, and served briefly at Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas, before moving to Park Field, Tenn., for flying training. Following graduation from Park Field, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and placed on active duty on May 18, 1918.

Upon being commissioned he remained at Park Field, transferring to Ellington Field, Texas, in August 1918. In November 1921, he was assigned to command the 60th Service Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, and two years later, while at that station, participated in the International Air Races at St. Louis, Mo., in the event for bombing planes. He remained at Kelly Field until January 1925 when he moved to France Field, Panama Canal Zone, with the 63rd Service Squadron and the 25th Bombardment Squadron, successively. He returned to the United States in March 1928 as an instructor of flying in the Bombardment Section of the Advanced Flying School, Kelly Field, Texas. While on this tour in July 1929, he, with Lieutenant Lawrence J. Carr, made a notable one-day flight from France Field to Kelly Field, a distance of 2,030 miles in twenty hours and twenty minutes.

On July 15, 1929, he took a special course at the School of Navigation at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, qualifying him as an aerial navigator on Nov. 4, 1929. He returned to Kelly Field, Texas, as an instructor at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School in August 1930. He enrolled in the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, Va., and after graduation in June 1931 became Operations Officer of the 19th Bombardment Group at Rockwell Field, Calif. He was transferred to Wright Field, Ohio, in July 1933, for temporary duty connected with instrument flying and landing.

He was awarded the Mackay Trophy in 1933 "for his pioneering flights in connection with the development of methods and procedure of Aerial Frontier Defense during the year 1933. These flights involved instrument take-offs from landings on both land and water, and proceeding to designated points at sea, and return under instrument flying conditions."

Between October and December 1933, he was an instructor at Langley Field, Va., then moved to Rockwell Field, Calif., as Operations Officer of the 19th Bombardment Group. He served as Instrument Flying Instructor at headquarters of the Western Zone, Army Air Corps Mail Operations, Salt Lake City, Utah, between March 1934 and May 1934, when he returned to Rockwell Field to complete his assignment.

He was a Navigation Officer with the Alaskan flight between July and September 1934, returning to Rockwell Field where he became Commander of the 32nd Bombardment Squadron. He transferred to March Field, Calif., between October 1935 and August 1936 when he entered the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., from which he graduated in June 1937. He then became Assistant Plans and Operations Officer for the General Headquarters Air Force at Langley Field, Va., on Feb. 21, 1940, and a year later assumed command of the 13th Bombardment Group at that field. The station for this group became Westover, Mass., during the year 1941.

He was later assigned to the Air Force Combat Command at Bolling Field, District of Columbia, and in March 1942 he was assigned to command the 1st Bomber Command, Mitchel Field, N.Y. He commanded the Third Air Force with headquarters at Tampa, Fla., from 1943 to 1945. He served as Commanding General of the 8th Fighter Command in 1945.

He is rated a command pilot and combat observer.

His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal.

(Biography compiled from information in a 1943 War Department biography; the Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers by R. Manning Ancell with Christine M. Miller, and USAF Historical Study No. 91: Biographical Data on Air Force General Officers 1917 to 1952.)


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