Ralph Adel Snavely was born in Aurora, Mo., in 1898. He served as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve from December 1918 to April 1919 and graduated from Teachers' College of Missouri in 1921, after which he engaged in commercial aviation.
General Snavely was appointed a second lieutenant in the Air Service of the Regular Army Jan. 5, 1923, and assigned as a student officer at the Air Corps Primary Flying School, Brooks Field, Texas. After completing the course, he transferred to the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, from which he graduated with the rating of pilot in February 1924. Retained on duty at Kelly Field, he served as assistant engineer officer and operations officer of the 40th Squadron, and in May 1924 was assigned as flying instructor of the 10th School Group at that station.
General Snavely went to the Philippine Islands in July 1924 and, upon completion of his two-year tour, returned to Brooks Field as a student officer at the Flying Instructors School. In December 1926 he was transferred to Kelly Field where he became an instructor in the Bombardment Section of the Advanced Flying School. In September 1930 he went to Rockwell Field, Calif., for duty as engineering officer of the 11th Bombardment Squadron, and in October 1931 transferred with this organization to March Field, Calif. In June 1932, he was assigned to the 31st Bombardment Squadron, which he commanded at various times in addition to his duties as engineering officer.
In November 1934, General Snavely went to Maxwell Field, Ala., as post operations and ordnance officer, and then entered the Air Corps Tactical School there. Upon completion of the course in June 1936 he entered the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He graduated in June 1937 and returned to Maxwell Field as an instructor.
In July 1940, General Snavely was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps as assistant to the chief of the Training Section. Soon afterward he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth as an instructor at the Command and General Staff School. He went to London, England, in May 1941 where he became Special Assistant Army Observer at headquarters of the Special Army Observation Group, U.S. Army Forces in the European theater.
General Snavely became assistant chief of staff for operations of the Fourth Air Force in San Francisco, Calif., in September 1942, and in March 1943 was placed in command of the Los Angeles Air Wing. He later commanded the Los Angeles Fighter Wing, and in May 1944 assumed command of the 410th Air Force Base Unit in Los Angeles, retaining this position when the unit was later transferred to Hollywood, Calif. In August 1944, he was appointed commander of the 319th Wing of the Fourth Air Force with headquarters at Hammer Air Field, Calif.
In February 1945, General Snavely was assigned to headquarters of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force with the U.S. Group Control Council for Austria. He remained there until January 1947 when he was transferred to Air Force headquarters in Washington, D.C. On March 7, 1947, he was appointed deputy commanding general and chief of staff of the 11th Air Force at Harrisburg, Pa. In June 1948, he was named vice commander of the 14th Air Force with headquarters in Orlando Air Force Base, Fla., and retained that position when the 14th Air Force Headquarters was moved to Warner Robins AFB, Ga., in October 1949.
In December 1949, the general was appointed chief of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group at Copenhagen, Denmark.
General Snavely's decorations include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He is rated a command pilot, combat observer, aircraft observer, and technical observer.
(Current as of June 1952)